Children are more vulnerable as pedestrians due to their cognitive, physical and behavioral traits. However, walking is one of the main forms of travel for children, particularly during leisure hours. Child pedestrian injury primarily occurs in urban areas, with a significant share at crosswalks. This study observed child pedestrian behaviors at crosswalks of urban intersections aiming to characterize their behavior patterns and identify risk factors that may lead to injury. Crossing behaviors of children and adolescents up to age 18, during leisure hours, were video-recorded at 29 crosswalks, on signalized and un-signalized intersections situated on collector roads. Some children used pedestrian crosswalks while riding a bicycle or other non-motorized means; they were also included in the sample. Behaviors of 2930 young road users were encoded and compared by age groups. Multivariate logistic regression models were adjusted to identify factors associated with crossing on red and with non-checking vehicle traffic at un-signalized crosswalks. The findings pointed to different behavior patterns for the various child age groups. Risk-taking behaviors are higher for older children; adolescents aged 14-17 cross more on red, without checking traffic, outside crosswalk boundaries and while distracted. At all types of sites, a fifth of children over the age of 9 crossed by riding, the probability of crossing on red and of non-checking traffic prior to crossing at an un-signalized crosswalk was higher for children riding an electric bicycle or kick-scooter. The non-checking of traffic was also higher when a child is distracted by a mobile phone or other electronic gadget, or carries a big object. Children under age 9 were usually accompanied by adults but still exhibited risk-taking behaviors that apparently mirrored those of the adults. Risk-taking behaviors of young road users should be taken into account in the development of injury prevention programs focusing on child and parent education and training, and by adapting the urban environment to better meet their needs.
Keywords: Behavior observation; Child pedestrians; Distraction; Riding; Urban crosswalks.
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