Kids inaccurately judge car speeds

If you sometimes wonder why your kids seem to have trouble deciding whether it’s safe to cross the street, a recent study provides an explanation. According to the authors, primary school children often inaccurately estimate the speed of approaching vehicles moving faster than 30 kilometers per hour (km/h).

If you sometimes wonder why your kids seem to have trouble deciding whether it’s safe to cross the street, a recent study provides an explanation. According to the authors, primary school children often inaccurately estimate the speed of approaching vehicles moving faster than 30 kilometers per hour (km/h).

This tendency to make poor traffic-related decisions is not a matter of children not paying attention; it is actually due to the fact that their visual detection mechanisms are not yet fully mature. In order to reach these conclusions, the researchers assessed the perceptual acuity of more than 100 primary school children and calculated their ability to judge the speed of approaching vehicles.

While adult pedestrians can generally make accurate estimates of vehicle speeds up to 80 km/h, the children’s judgments were unreliable when the speed was above 30 km/h and the vehicle was five seconds away. This suggests that children are more likely to make unsafe judgments when it comes to deciding whether or not they have enough time to cross a street.

You can increase the safety of your children by making sure they are easily visible: colourful clothing, ideally equipped with reflective strips, is recommended. Teach them to cross the street at crosswalks and that, when in doubt, it’s best to wait a few seconds than to risk an accident.

Drivers should also remember that pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks! Drive with caution in residential areas, where children often play in the street. Don’t hesitate to reduce your driving speed in these areas. You’ll arrive at your destination only a few seconds later, but this precaution could very well save a life.

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