The roles of age, gender, inhibitory control, and parental supervision in children’s pedestrian safety

  • Published: University of Alabama, Journal of Pediatric Psychology Vol. 32 No. 5, 2007
  • Authors: B.K. Barton and D.C. Schwebel
  • Date Added: 15 Mar 2013
  • Last Update: 15 Mar 2013
  • Format: pdf


To examine the roles of children’s individual differences (age, gender, and inhibitory control) and parental supervision in children’s pedestrian behaviours.


A sample of 85 children and 26 adults crossed a pretend crosswalk set adjacent to a real road. Safety of crossing the pretend road was determined based on actual traffic on the real road. Adults also crossed the real road.

Key Findings:

  • Adults’ behaviour on the real road paralleled that on the pretend road, supporting validity of the method.

  • On the pretend road, younger children, boys, and children with less behavioural control engaged in riskier pedestrian behaviours.

  • Children with less behavioural control responded more noticeably to increases in parental supervision.

  • Combined with previous work, results suggest that most 5-6 year olds lack the cognitive complexity to become safe pedestrians.

  • Children aged 7-8 years old are more likely to be capable of handling the cognitive complexities of pedestrian safety and might therefore be the ideal target group for prevention efforts based on cognitive methods.

  • The present study suggests that the mere presence of a parent, may cause children to behave more cautiously.


Parental supervision, Child pedestrian, behaviour, cognitive complexity.


Robust but research used a pretend road rather than real life conditions.