Why kids get hit by cars

school.xing2Getting hit by a car is the third leading cause of death for kids 5- to 9-years-old, and kids up to age 15 make up a disproportionate number of pedestrian casualties worldwide. It’s not hard to think of reasons for this scary statistic: Children are easily distracted and don’t always pay attention, and they are also smaller, so they’re more likely to sustain fatal injuries when they are hit. But there may be another, even more basic, reason for this childhood peril: Kids simply don’t see the cars coming.

The ability to see and avoid looming objects is a fundamental skill, crucial to survival not only for humans but for most animals. We take it for granted because we do it automatically, but it’s actually a complex skill, requiring a rapid calculation of size and distance and velocity. Add to this the fact that we pedestrians are also in motion, and must figure in our own walking speed, and it’s no surprise that even adults get clipped sometimes. New evidence is now showing that kids’ perceptual abilities are slow to develop, making them less adept at this crucial calculation.

Psychological scientist John Wann and his colleagues at the University of London ran a laboratory simulation of regular street crossing in order to compare the perceptual skills of adults with those of children of various ages. In this realistic simulation, a car approached on a roadway, sometimes varying in size and speed; sometimes the subjects saw the car directly in front of them, and other times off to the side a bit, and they reported whether the image of the car expanded or stayed the same. The scientists also calculated the subjects’ walking speed, and factored their movement into a calculation of their perception of the approaching car’s looming threat.

school.xingThey found a clear developmental pattern in perception of the looming vehicles. As reported on-line in the journal Psychological Science, the kids showed clear improvement in their acuity with age, but even the older children did not match the adults in their ability to detect an automobile’s approach, suggesting that the neural mechanisms for this skill remain undeveloped. Paradoxically, faster moving cars appear to loom less than slow moving cars, creating a dangerous illusion that speedy cars are not approaching. Indeed, the scientists determined that children could not reliably detect a car approaching at speeds higher than 20 miles per hour. What’s more, the kids’ perception of a car’s approach was worse if the car was even slightly off to the side—a realistic condition for typical road crossing—or if they themselves were in motion, as they likely would be.

Driving 20 miles per hour is really slow. Try it sometime. But it’s typically the speed we’re supposed to drive in school zones, and there are many other locations—residential areas, for example—where kids are also vulnerable. These new findings fit with evidence that kids are three times as likely to get hit by a car when traffic speed exceeds 25 miles an hour, and now we know why. Not only do speedy drivers need more reaction time, now it appears that young pedestrians simply can’t see the cars coming in the first place. It can be a deadly combination.

Wray Herbert’s book, On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind’s Hard-Wired Habits, has been published by Crown. Excerpts from his two blogs—“Full Frontal Psychology” and “We’re Only Human”—appear regularly in Scientific American Mind and in The Huffington Post.

Comments

You forgot to mention, that no matter which way you slice it, ALL pedestrians/bicyclists have the right of way. The driver should always be held responsible for hitting someone. If studies show that kids have slower reaction times, it does not matter. Too many children are hit and killed (or injured) by cars. NO! Not by cars, that is the equivalent of saying that guns kill people. Children are being killed by PEOPLE Driving Cars. It is unacceptable. When we acquire a driver’s license, we are saying that we will take responsibility for our actions behind the wheel.
http://www.news10.net/news/article/162381/2/Auto-v-pedestrian-accident-claims-9-year-old-in-Marysville

There is no excuse good enough to give to a parent or family member, and ‘she’s small and has bad reaction times’ is not a good enough one. My niece was killed by a driver, not a car. The car was just the object used to kill her. I may be a little biased, but this one hits close to home. And I do know that I feel the same way no matter what.

What if a child runs out into traffic chasing a ball. I think the author is not trying to place blame but rather trying to describe the maturation process of the ability to be in the moment.

I would like to reply

Moderation?

As a parent who has also hit a child riding a bike I disagree 100% with the above writer. The child that I hit was crossing the crosswalk when it was red for him. Blocking my view was a semi who saw the child in the right lane and I was in the left lane (5 lane road). The light had been green for me, I was following speed limits and was found 100% NOT at fault. The child went in front of the semi and was in front of me without ANY warning as the semi was blocking my view of the crosswalk (keeping in mind the light was green for me). I had approached the crosswalk going 20 MPH, the light turned green 500 yards from the intersection. It was horrifying and, by far, the worst incident that I have ever experienced. Luckily, the child (who also was not wearing a helmet) was ok other than a slight concussion. He was honestly very lucky to be alive. I am sharing my story because parents ALSO need to teach children that cars can KILL and to obey traffic signals and laws.

I am a careful driver who has never been in an accident other than this and had 1 ticket in my 18 years of driving. Accidents happen sadly.

Yeah the parents dont pay attention so thats there falt for their kids getting hurt. At Walmart this giy hit a 5 year old girl and he was saying that sje is not hirt by the way the car hit her and the mother was no where to be seen she was left at Walmart and she went in to the street and got hit by the car.

My almost 4 year old was hit by a car yesterday I feel like the worse mom in the world. She survived with only bruising and a slight skull fracture.

Parents have to take the blame because they send young kids out into the street alone way too young!!!

I only read this article because Im having a problem with people coming to a toddler park that is surrounded by busy streets and leaving the gates open. This park is in a shape of a triangle and each side has streets with zooming cars going by. I try to mention to the people about the children being in danger by leaving the gates open but it doesnt seem to sink in. I even find some parents doing it! This park has newborns to 5 year olds playing at the park all the time. Does anyone have any advice?

Every morning I see that a child is getting hit by a car, this is scary and its not all the kids fault .Its people in a hurry on there phones.. Walking my kids to school one morning I too was almost clipped by a car going about 50 miles per hour , she never slowed down even though she could clearly see me almost across the walk and I just made it to the sidewalk before she almost hit me…. I should have had plenty of time acording to how far back she was…..

I hit a young child in a cross walk yesterday. Clearly the most devastating moment of my life. I too, am a careful driver. One ticket in my life. I stopped and the child was running in the cross walk. Thank the lord above, he is most likely going to be ok. He wasn’t crying,was talking and moving. knew his name and his teachers name. no broken bones. He had a big bruise on his head. A little blood from being scratched, but no other bleeding. police and paramedic said he’d be ok, just banged up. If he would of died, i don’t know what I would of done.

I am not going to try and argue with anyone on here. I am simply going to say how i feel over the whole thing. My brother was hit by a car about three weeks ago and when it happened i had went to the bathroom. I blame myself entirely for what happened to him. I am only sixteen and to be honest that was horrifying for me. i had to ride in the ambulance and helicopter and did not leave his side once. my parents were at work and i had to watch my four younger siblings. the women that hit him was only worried about herself. She said and i quote ” thank god i m not going to jail” once she realized he wasn’t dead. she told the police that she saw him, she was going about 30 so she really did some damage. He is still in the hospital. I blame her but not entirely because i should have been there.

I had had a bike accident with a kid that ran out I front of me and I skitted and slid into him when I came to a halt. I was not at fault because the parent was not watching her kid. The kid was not injured neither was I. Yet to this day kids are not entirely being supervised by parents, they are too busy partying or talking to other people. Some parents think that “oh its a bike it won’t hit my child”. But when they see a car they say “Car!”. My advice is if you have a child playing in the street, look for bikes and cars. If you are in a car, honk for attention.

Schools and parents should be doing more to teach kids street safety when walking on the sidewalk and crossing the street. This used to be done, but these days, it has been replaced with stop signs on the sides of buses and the end result is the kids don’t really learn any of the skills they need to learn. I think the school system is just as much to blame as the parents are in most cases. Kids don’t even look both ways anymore. They just run across the street like they do when the bus is there to protect them, but when there’s no bus, bad things happen.

My daughter was hit by a car and dragged 23 feet under the tire.Due to security cameras, we were able to see that she had looked both ways and did what she had been taught to do. The driver(who worked at a daycare down the street from us) wasn’t looking at the road and never saw her until she hit her. My daughter was 7 at the time. From the knee down on her right leg, there was nothing but bone. The woman never apologized, she went so far as to blame my daughter! I feel so bad for anyone who had this happen, both driver and victim. I just wish that this person could have apologized or shown any remorse at all. Our medical bills after five years ( and counting) have reached over 1.5 million. 19 surgeries and counting, and still no remorse. Please just drive slower and watch carefully, an accident is just that, an accident. Remember the mortality code, children under the age of 10, cannot grasp the understanding that they could die. No one wins in this tragedy…they all lose!

I hit a 4 year old children half year ago. I was driving on the road with 2 lanes. I’m driving in right lane. The father trying to take the children walk against the traffic. He claim in the police report that his cell phone fall down. He go to pick it up and therefore he didn’t hold his children hand. The taxi in the left lane see they want to cross the road and therefore stop. When I’m behind the taxi, I check again and again no one is going to cross the road. Then the children suddenly run in front of my car. I quickly turn my car and fortunately I didn’t hit him directly. He’s going to be ok although he get a broken right leg.

I don’t understand. I was trying to explain to my 6 year old daughter. The importance of car safety weather it was her walking somewhere someday. Or the response abilities of a driver and I was explaining how kids get hit all the time. And she ask how many kids get hit a day. So I tried to look it up and I can not find any information. You would think that something like that would be available. If any body knows of even if anybody knows why the info is unavailable could you let me know.

I read a year or more ago that every 20 seconds a child is hit by a car in London (UK)

My daughter gothit by a car that mounted the pavement while she was waiting for lights to change at a pelican crossing. She has had 30 hours of surgery, she had to have above knee amputation or she would have died. She has numerous metal work and will be in hospital for weeks and rehab for months, plus I may have to give up my job to look after her

My brother had accident three years ago, the guy who hit the motorcycle he was showed some remorse and no one had the time to blame him or whoever, rather we concentrated on the health of the victim. I guess that was so because he showed too much remorse.

I was hit by a car February 20 2004 I was only 7 years old and to this day I still have issues with trusting people driving around or getting into a car because I’m afraid that I will be hit by a car again. I was on my way home from school like I did any other day in 2004 after school next thing I knew she hit me with her car because she was looking at her floor looking for her makeup and not paying attention to the road. I never want anyone hit by a car if you drop something in your car pull over and get it if it means that much to you save a life save your self from jail or whatever it is you get for hitting someone with your car

Today my 5 year old son was hit by a car. We were at school and the car was parked and backed into him. I was walking behind him as he was winning onto the sidewalk. By the time I saw the car move he was right behind it. The driver didn’t even check her mirrors, a classmates mom. I am horrified. She had to have been going 4 mph and he was fine. I searched this blog out to see if I could find any information on post trauma to be prepared for the night to come if he should be in pain I couldn’t bare it. Does anyone have any constructive criticism on treatment on a just in case business. I am an hour out from getting him from school as he insisted on going in with his mates. I’ve been worried sick all day with hourly reports from the school as I have given them stern instruction to keep an eye. Maybe Epsom salts can help this or if anyone knows anything I’ll pick it up in preparation before getting him from school.

My apologies for all the gosh darn autocorrects.

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