The influences of demographics and individual differences on children’s selection of risky pedestrian routes

  • Published: Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 2006
  • Authors: B. Barton and D. Schwebel
  • Date Added: 28 Jan 2013
  • Last Update: 28 Jan 2013
  • Format: pdf


To determine the roles of age, gender, ethnicity, family income and inhibitory control on children’s selection of safe pedestrian routes.


The study measured 122 children for inhibitory control and pedestrian route matching. Gender, age, ethnicity and household income were noted.

Key Findings:

  • Younger age, ethnic minority status, lower family income and lower temperamental inhibitory control predicted selection of riskier routes.

  • Neither gender nor child- or parent-reported temperament was significantly related to route selection.

  • Poorer safe route selection of lower income and ethnic minority children may be indicative of environmental factors which reduce street crossing experience; i.e. it seems unlikely that low income or ethnic minority status is in itself a cause of poor route selection.

  • Although gender is typically correlated with road safety, this study did not find a correlation with route selection. It is likely therefore that differences arise from street crossing behaviour – girls are more likely to engage in better stop and look behaviour before crossing.

  • The study found that some measures of temperament were strong predictors where others offered poor correlation. This is likely due to the inherent difficulties in measuring temperament, and that some measures tapped behaviours more relevant to route construction.

Themes: safe route selection, demographics, temperament, children


This study provides useful pointers to those wishing to target training to sub-groups of children at greater risk. Limitations of the study include uncertainty around transference of laboratory results to real road crossing behaviour; and that the sample contained a spread of incomes, but that these were still above average.