Bringing children into the social contract of road use: Final report (Road Safety Research Report No. 33)

  • Published: University of Sussex prepared for the Department for Transport, 2003
  • Authors: S. Wood, S. Thornton, E. Arundell and L. Graupner
  • Date Added: 15 Mar 2013
  • Last Update: 15 Mar 2013
  • Format: pdf


Develop and evaluate a booklet for parents to support them in teaching traffic skills and comprehension to their own children (targeted at 5-8 year olds) and also induce an error-avoidant perspective and consistent spontaneous deployment of traffic skills.


The project was divided into two stages:

Stage 1: Pilot studies in ‘contrived naturalistic’ environments to investigate the effectiveness of the scheme as a whole.

Stage 2: Large scale surveys to investigate the scheme’s success under ‘more naturalistic’ (i.e. real life) conditions.

Key Findings:

  • The obvious resource for road safety training is the child’s own parent. Parents are, de facto, the primary educators in this field; they are the child’s main companion on the roads, the model from whom the child learns by observation and the arbiter of road safety strategies.

  • Use of materials previously developed for the parents of younger children can yield up to a 20 per cent fall in ‘dart-out’ RTIs.

  • The scheme developed for this project has been successful. Evaluation has demonstrated that it provides a practical method for parents (of 5-8 year olds) to help improve their children’s road safety skills and hazard awareness.

  • Initial feedback on the booklet used during the pilot studies indicated that the scheme offered a child-orientated perspective on road safety issues that was new to parents. Parents reported an appreciation of the road safety task from the child’s perspective, understanding how this might differ from the problem for the adult, and many said that subsequently they would actively involve their children in decision-making at the roadside. The results from the surveys demonstrated that, overall, children’s traffic skills and hazard awareness improved significantly, and the clear age difference in traffic and hazard awareness skills levels that existed before the schemes had been eradicated.


Parents, Road safety, Booklet


Robust and conducted within real life conditions.