Research & reports

Title: Reduced Sensitivity to Visual Looming Inflates the Risk Posed by Speeding Vehicles When Children Try to Cross the Road

Organisation: University of London (Royal Holloway)
Date uploaded: 9th October 2013
Date published/launched: April 2011

The results from perceptual tests of looming thresholds show strong developmental trends in sensitivity, such that children may not be able to detect vehicles approaching at speeds in excess of 20 mph.

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Road traffic statistics confirm that children up to 15 years old are overrepresented in pedestrian casualties.

This study demonstrates that, for a given pedestrian crossing time, vehicles travelling faster loom less than slower vehicles, which creates a dangerous illusion in which faster vehicles may be perceived as not approaching.

The results from perceptual tests of looming thresholds show strong developmental trends in sensitivity, such that children may not be able to detect vehicles approaching at speeds in excess of 20 mph.

This creates a risk of injudicious road crossing in urban settings when traffic speeds are higher than 20 mph. The risk is exacerbated because vehicles moving faster than this speed are more likely to result in pedestrian fatalities.

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