What works in preventing unintentional injuries in children and young adolescents? An updated systematic review

  • Published: NHS Health Development Agency, 2001
  • Authors: NHS Health Development Agency
  • Date Added: 05 Feb 2013
  • Last Update: 14 Feb 2016
  • Format: html


This is a systematic review of evidence which attempts to answer the question: ‘How effective are health promotion interventions in preventing unintentional injuries in childhood and young adolescence?’


A review of six studies along with consultation with ‘key informants’ was undertaken. Two studies were from the UK, two from Denmark and two from the Netherlands.

Key Findings:

  • In the Urban Safety Project, overall road traffic RTIs were reduced by 13 per cent but there were great variations between schemes. Slight RTIs declined proportionately more than fatal and serious ones.

  • Pedestrian injuries were reduced in one centre (Sheffield) in particular and there was a general reduction in child cyclist casualties. Measures that protected two-wheel vehicles such as right turn prevention and right turn bays, were particularly successful.

  • A longer term assessment in Reading showed that child pedestrians and cyclists particularly benefited. Each scheme cost about £250,000 and first year rates of return indicated considerable cost savings. In the Netherlands, Vis et al estimated the cost of 30km/h zones as about $7,000 per 10,000m2 but did not provide any data on cost savings from RTI reduction.

  • The evaluation of 20 mph zones in the UK proved them to be effective both in reducing traffic speed and in reducing RTIs. In particular child pedestrian injuries were reduced by 70 per cent from 1.24 per year in each area before to 0.37 after the zones were introduced. Child cyclist injuries were reduced by 48 per cent, from 0.21 before to 0.11 per year after the intervention. No migration of RTIs was found to other areas as a result of the introduction of the zones.

  • One finding of the evaluation of the impact of bicycle tracks was that although RTIs involving cyclists and car users decreased, RTIs involving cyclists and other road users (pedestrians and other cyclists) increased.

  • There is now good evidence that area-wide engineering schemes and traffic calming measures reduce RTIs. Vulnerable road users such as child pedestrians and cyclists benefited from such schemes.

  • Area-wide engineering schemes are cost effective.

  • There is some evidence that cycle tracks reduce some cycle injuries but more research is needed in this area.


Traffic calming measures, RTI reduction.


A good summary of a selection of European schemes.