Road safety behaviour of adolescent children in groups: final report

L. Chinn, M.A. Elliott, J. Sentinella, K. Williams, Department for Transport (Funder)

Research output: Book/ReportOther report


In Britain, the number of children killed or seriously injured as pedestrians peaks in the first few years of secondary school. Previous studies have shown that adolescents are more likely to be travelling in a same age group than younger children, and that 54 percent of child pedestrians aged 11-16 involved in an accident reported that they were with their friends at the time; a higher percentage than that reported by younger casualties. This project aimed to determine whether adolescents in groups behave differently with regard to attention paid to road safety than when they are on their own, and to determine in what ways behaviour differs and why. The research programme included analysis of child accident data, a questionnaire survey and focus groups with school children, video surveys of child pedestrians, and a review of relevant literature. This study has shown that around two-thirds of adolescent accidents occur while they are walking or cycling in groups, but this largely reflects the fact that similar proportions of their walking and cycling is done in groups. However, there are differences in attitudes and activities among boys and girls at different ages, which do impact on their road safety related behaviour. The age range 13-14 are more at risk than older or younger children when in groups. Individually adolescents behave less safely when in groups, but they are aware of this and it does not generally result in more accidents as the behaviour of the group as a whole, and perhaps their visibility to motorists, tends to mitigate this. The exception to this appears to be boys aged 13-14, who tend toward more 'planned' risky behaviour. Both exposure and accidents appear to be high for small groups (i.e. with one to three friends), and more risky behaviour is undertaken and the level of distraction due to chatting is high for those in such small groups. However, some children believe their behaviour is more sensible, and that they are safer when with just one friend. For girls, group activity becomes increasingly important through adolescence, and there is some evidence that the risk to girls is higher when they are with friends than when they are alone. For boys, mid-adolescence risky behaviour trying to impress peers gives way to a tendency to more trips being made alone or in pairs by the age 15-16.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • road safety
  • adolescent children
  • accident reports
  • child pedestrians


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