All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

David Schwebel

Advisory Committee Members

Olivio J Clay

Colleen M Fisher

Robin G Lanzi

Despina Stavrinos

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2022

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

There is ample data from epidemiological sources that suggest pedestrian risks to young children are a dire public health concern. However, there is very little scientific evidence to adequately understand this concern. Two observational studies revealed potential risks to young pedestrians in non-intersection locations. Both studies unobtrusively observed children between 2-10 years of age and an accompanying adult. First, 124 adult/child dyads were observed crossing from a parked vehicle to the building entrance of six local YMCA locations. Results of this study indicate that adult supervision was inadequate with over 67% of children observed to be unsupervised in the parking lot. Additionally, almost 90% of children were outside of their adult’s arm length and over 50% exited the vehicle prior to the adult. Both adults and children were also observed crossing the parking lot distracted. Results indicate that adults were distracted during 56.5% of observations and children were distracted in 66.9% of the observed crossings. Second, 153 adult/child dyads were observed crossing a residential street from their vehicle to a local park at two locations. Results of this study on two residential streets indicate that children under 10 years of age were unsupervised in almost 59% of observations. Over 40% of observed children crossed the street independently without an adult or another child. Additionally, adults were observed crossing the street distracted over 50% of the time with children crossing while distracted in over 35% of observations. iii Adult supervision of young children in parking lots and on residential streets was poor. Furthermore, high rates of adult and child distraction were observed in addition to low levels of safety behaviors such as looking for moving vehicles. Results of these studies increase researchers’ understanding of pedestrian risk in non-intersection locations. Future research may explore altering adult and child perceived risk, improving supervision, and decreasing distraction rates as intervention strategies targeting young child pedestrian safety.

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