A six-year-old is likely to be hit by a vehicle when crossing a busy road 8% of the time, says a study done at the University of Iowa.
Researchers studied over 2,000 street crossings done by children in a life-like simulator in the age groups of 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14.
"The general consensus is that kids, young kids, can cross the street by themselves and while many young kids are completely capable of doing that, I think what this study tells us is that maybe on a busy road crossing situation parents need to be aware that kids might not be as a good as they think they are at crossing the road," Elizabeth O'Neal, a UI graduate student, said.
The simulation scenario features a high-traffic neighborhood where the cars do not stop. It's up to the children to decide when it's safe to cross the street in between the gaps.
The study revealed that 6-year-olds had the highest accident rate at 8% while 8-year-olds were struck 6% of the time. For 10-year-olds, 5%, and 12-year-olds, 2%.
It wasn't until the 14 age group when no accidents occurred.
The study isn't a matter of just looking both ways before crossing the street, it's about the kids ability to measure the distance and time between the traveling cars.
"Adults tend to cut in really closely behind the first car and the gap they've chosen to cross through which leaves them with more time to spare once they reach the other side. However kids aren't cutting in as closely as adults, therefore, ending with a riskier crossing," O'Neal said.
Researchers say this study doesn't have all the answers when it comes to kids crossing the street. They say every kid is different and it's up to the parents to evaluate the capability of their child and to keep giving them the proper skills on how to do it.
"Encourage kids to navigate road crossing in a safe way. Go to a marked crosswalk when one's available. Go to the stop sign if there's one nearby. Go to the intersection even it means being just a little bit out of the way," O'Neal said.