Pedestrian Safety to Children: Intervention
- Pedestrian safety is a crucial skill that should be learned by children to reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality from traffic accidents. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2017), children and older adults are most at risk of being killed in traffic crashes. The present paper offers an intervention using virtual reality by mobile smartphones to reduce the number of injuries from motor vehicle accidents in children.
- The audience targeted by the intervention is school-age children, as the age is characterized by the rapid growth of cognitive ability. According to Edelman, Kudzma, and Mandle (2014), while children during the period develop slower physically than during infancy and adolescence, “their mental abilities grow tremendously” (p. 480). They start learning outside of the family, as they begin attending school and peer groups. During the period children are relatively healthy and can accept responsibility for their actions. As traffic safety should be taught as soon as possible, the described age group is most appropriate for interventions concerning pedestrian safety.
- The leading cause of death in children in the US are injuries due to transportation. According to the CDC (2017), 5,376 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2015, and almost 129,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for the same reason. Schwebel, Severson, He, and McClure (2016), state that the US government spends more than $12 billion a year on pedestrian injuries, making the matter a serious financial issue. Due to the statistics mentioned above, the problem of children’s morbidity and mortality in traffic accidents is crucial and should be addressed through appropriate interventions and educational programs.
- The intervention is designed to consider all the pertinent risk factors, including age, location, time, and vehicle speed. According to the CDC (2017), children under 15 and older adults over 65 are most in danger of becoming victims in motor vehicle accidents as pedestrians. Therefore, the population affected by the intervention are children between 5 and 12. CDC (2017) also reports that most crashes happen in urban areas and non-intersection locations.
- Most pedestrian deaths and injuries happen at night due to poor vision (CDC, 2017). High vehicle speeds increase the probability and severity of the injury.
- The intervention includes six 30-minute sessions of street crossing in a VR environment to improve children’s skills in the matter reducing risks of pedestrian injury.
- The goal of training is to achieve an adult level of pedestrian safety in children between 5 and 12 using an interactive platform that can be fun and appealing to the age group.
- The objectives of the training are as follows:
- Measure the skill level of the participants in the matter before the intervention and share the results with the children.
- Provide six training sessions in school settings to improve the skills of crossing the street.
- Gather the feedback from both children and the smartphone application about the objective and perceived level of crossing the street.
- Repeat the process of achievement evaluation six months after the intervention to assess its effectiveness.
- The children will complete six training sessions in the VR environment using Google Cupboard and a smartphone with an installed application. During the meetings, the participants will be required to assess the traffic situation of a two-way road and push the button on Google Cupboard when they think it is safe to cross the street. The sessions will be scheduled once a week, allowing the participants to reflect upon the results of the simulation.
- The central means of evaluating the success of training is the assessment of the participants’ ability to make decisions concerning street crossing before and after the intervention. The feedback will be gathered from the mobile application and through conducting interviews to address both subjective and objective parts of the matter. Interviews will provide information on the anxiety level of children while crossing the road. At the same time, the application will reflect the objective data on the matter.
- Studies show that similar interventions have proven to be beneficial for improving traffic rules awareness and developing decision-making skills in children under 15. According to Schwebel et al. (2016), such interventions are valuable for providing repetitive training without risks of injury, automated feedback gathering, allowing broad dissemination, and making the process amusing for children. Similar interventions conducted by Schebel et al. (2016) show tremendous results worldwide, as children achieve the adult level of traffic awareness in a short period. Hence, a reduction of morbidity and mortality in motor vehicle accidents can be achieved through in-school training of pedestrian skills.
- The method for reducing risks of injury examined in the paper requires high-end technology and software that may not be cost-efficient. Schebel et al. (2016) acknowledge other interventions and claim that most effective training strategies include repeated practice. The education is usually provided in vivo or in VR environments that are not mobile. However, training strategies practiced on the street side can be dangerous, and non-mobile VR environments can be hard to access. Therefore, the method described in the present paper seems to be more advantageous than other possible interventions.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Pedestrian Safety. Web.
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Edelman, C., Kudzma, E., & Mandle, C. (2014). Health promotion throughout the life span. (8th ed.). St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier.
Schwebel, D., Severson, J., He, Y., & McClure, L. (2016). Virtual reality by mobile smartphone: Improving child pedestrian safety. Injury Prevention, 23(5), 357-357. Web.