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The roles of gender, age and cognitive development in children's pedestrian route selection


Benjamin K. Barton, Department of Psychology and Communication Studies, PO Box 443043, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3043, USA. E-mail:


Objective  Thousands of American children under the age of 10 years are injured annually as pedestrians. Despite the scope of this public health problem, knowledge about behavioural control and developmental factors involved in the aetiology of child pedestrian safety is limited. The present study examined the roles of gender, age and two aspects of cognitive development (visual search and efficiency of processing) in children's safe pedestrian route selection.

Methods  Measures of cognitive functioning (visual search and efficiency) and selections of risky pedestrian routes were collected from 65 children aged 5–9 years.

Results  Boys, younger children and those with less developed cognitive functioning selected riskier pedestrian routes. Cognitive functioning also subsumed age as a predictor of risky route selections.

Conclusions  Our findings suggest developmental differences, specifically less developed cognitive functioning, play important roles in children's pedestrian decision making. Directions for future examination are discussed.