The effectiveness of parents in promoting the development of road crossing skills in young children

J. Thomson, K. Ampofo-Boateng, D. N. Lee, R. Grieve, T. K. Pitcairn, J. D. Demetre

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Young children show poor judgment when asked to select a safe place to cross the road, frequently considering dangerous sites to be safe. Correspondingly, child pedestrian accidents are over-represented at such locations. Increasing the child's ability to recognise such dangers is a central challenge for road safety education. Practical training methods have proved effective in improving such judgments but are labour-intensive, time-consuming and therefore difficult to implement on a realistic scale. The study examined the possibility that volunteers from the local community might be capable of using such methods to promote children's pedestrian competence. Sixty children from the Primary 1 (Reception) classes of three Glasgow schools took part. Volunteers were ordinary parents from the same areas. None had 'formal' experience of working with children other than through being parents. Method. Volunteers received experience of training children at courses organised in each school. Children learned in small groups, receiving two sessions of roadside training followed by four on a table-top model. Pre- and post-tests allowed the effectiveness of training to be assessed. Significant improvements relative to controls were found in all children following training. Improvements proved robust and no deterioration was observed two months after the programme ended. Comparison with a previous study in which training was undertaken by highly qualified staff showed that the volunteers were as effective as 'expert' trainers. Parent volunteers can significantly increase the pedestrian competence of children as young as five years. They constitute a most valuable 'resource' in road safety education. The opportunities afforded by involving the local community in educational interventions should be further explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-491
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • accident prevention
  • traffic accident
  • educational schedule
  • parent child relation
  • social interaction
  • public health
  • scotland
  • road safety


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