Serious child pedestrian road injuries on the journey to and from school in deprived communities (report)

University College London (UCL)

Date of Publication
April 2022

Uploaded to Knowledge Centre
8 November 2022

This report was produced as part of a wider project, funded by the Road Safety Trust, which set out to identify and evaluate promising road safety education programmes for parents of children under eleven years of age.

This specific project aimed to explore environmental risk factors for serious child pedestrian road injury in the UK between 2016 and 2020. This will enable recommendations for policy and interventions focused on reducing the risk of road injury for children travelling to and from school and promoting active transport methods to be developed.

This project highlighted the following four key recommendations for reducing the road injury risk to
children during the journey to and from school:

1. Deprived neighbourhoods should be the focus of interventions and policy.
Child pedestrian road injury was more likely in the most deprived neighbourhoods. This is not a new finding, but highlights that continued efforts to reduce the road injury risk of children living in the most deprived areas is still greatly needed. The focus of interventions and policy on reducing child pedestrian road injury and promoting walking to school should be centred around schools in the 10-20% most deprived areas nationally. The environment arounds schools in deprived areas needs to be addressed in terms of crossings, parking and traffic flow.

2. A holistic approach to reducing serious child pedestrian road injury and promoting walking is needed.
Safety measures, such as restricted parking, are often present immediately outside the school. This may reduce the risk to children on immediately entering or leaving the school but does not reduce their risk during the complete journey. Routes to school are characterised by lack of safe crossings and congestion of parked vehicles as well as complex traffic systems. To promote walking to school a more holistic approach considering the environment around the school as well as immediately outside the school is needed. Embedding School Streets as part of a broader area wide neighbourhood Healthy Streets Initiative may be more effective in reducing child road
injury. This would promote not just the safety of child pedestrians on their way to school but the community more widely.

3. Pedestrian crossings along school routes are needed.
Child road injuries often occurred when they were crossing the road and there was no designated pedestrian crossing available. Initiatives and policy aiming to promote walking to school and reduce the risk of child road injury should consider not just restrictions on traffic movements but the introduction of designated pedestrian crossings. However, child injuries occurred on or close to island crossings, indicating they may not be sufficient in reducing child road injury. Crossings should be considered not just outside a school but along popular routes to school and where
child injuries are frequent.

4. Parking design should consider the safety of child pedestrians.
Child road injuries frequently occurred on roads that were congested with parked vehicles, including vehicles parked on the pavement either legally or illegally. This reduced the number of safe crossing points as well as pedestrian and driver visibility. Initiatives and policy should consider the route to school holistically and address the parking in neighbouring roads. Following a Healthy Streets perspective ease of crossing should be considered, and parking should be designed in a way that minimises obstruction to driver and pedestrian views.

Access the report via the Road Safety Trust website:

(scroll down the page for link to report)

Read about the wider project.