Aim: To examine children's exposure to risk as pedestrians and to examine the extent to which child pedestrian exposure to risk varies by socioeconomic status and ethnic group. To identify factors which may influence child pedestrian exposure to risk.
Method: A survey of 442 parents was conducted to examine how children travel to and from school and parental perceptions of the risk of pedestrian injury.
Results: There are considerable socioeconomic and ethnic differences in children's exposure to risk as pedestrians. The proportion of children who walked home from school in the lowest socioeconomic stratum (63.5%) was over twice that in the highest socioeconomic stratum (25.2%). A significantly higher proportion of Maori (61.2%) and Pacific Island children (74.6%) walked home from school compared with children of European origin (29.4%). For children from families without access to a car, the proportion who walk home from school (78.0%) was more than twice that for children from families with a car (36.7%). Parental perceptions of risk do not vary by socioeconomic status and ethnic group.
Conclusion: The increased pedestrian injury rates for poor children and for Maori and Pacific Island children may be explained, in part, by the increased pedestrian exposure of these children. Increased pedestrian exposure is likely to reflect social and economic constraints, rather than differences in perceptions of the danger to children as pedestrians. Efforts to address the safety of children as pedestrians are urgently required.