A new study conducted by the University of Iowa has found that kids all the way to their 14th year “lack the perceptual judgment and motor skills to cross a busy road consistently without putting themselves in danger.”
The study found that kids had difficulty determining when it is and is not safe to cross the road. Their difficulty lies in not being able to effectively find gaps in traffic large enough. 6-year-olds actually had an 8% accident rate when crossing the street alone.
“Some people think younger children may be able to perform like adults when crossing the street,” Jodie Plumert, the study’s author, told Parents Magazine. “Our study shows that’s not necessarily the case on busy roads where traffic doesn’t stop.”
My knee-jerk reaction to this study was an eye-roll and a huff, but once you parse through the information, it actually paints a bleak picture: we’ve pretty much let cars take over our towns. Most cities are planned around driving, which makes sense, but critical infrastructure for pedestrians is seriously lacking.
There are people who will likely walk away from this information thinking that kids pretty much aren’t safe anywhere. But I think the real lesson here is that, it’s not that there’s something wrong with our kids. There’s something wrong with our streets and the way they’re designed.
Kids should be spending more time outside, even unsupervised time. My hope is that this study will lead to more responsible city planning, not more frightened parents hiding their kids from the world.