Child safety on roads – a cause for concern


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Child Safety On Roads – A Cause For Concern in India

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Child safety on roads – a cause for concern

  1. 1. CHILD SAFETY ON ROADS – A CAUSE FOR CONCERN ByDr. B. Mohan Venkatram, Ph.D Prof. M. Madhusudhana Rao, Ph.DAssociate Professor Department of Commerce &Department of Commerce and Management StudiesManagement Studies, Andhra University Andhra UniversityVisakhapatnam -530 003 Visakhapatnam – 530 003 ABSTRACT Road traffic accidents continue to be a major health and social problemworld over particularly in less developed countries (LDCs) wherein accidentrates are registered 15 to 20 times higher than developed countries. It isdisheartening to note that nearly three fourth of all fatal accidents occurs inLDCs costing over US $ 36 billion each year. Further, pedestrians are found tobe more vulnerable among all types of road users who account for about 40 percent of the road accident deaths. Empirical research reveals that the young are more prone to accidentrisk as a fifth of pedestrian fatalities in LDCs are none other than childrenbelonging to below 16 years age group. Thus child safety has become a majorroad safety problem in LDCs in general and India in particular. One of the major prerequisites to ensure traffic safety is adequate trafficsafety knowledge levels among different types of road users. If the children atthat tender age are to be safe on roads, their fresh minds should be equippedwith necessary traffic sense regarding the various traffic rules and regulationsand understand the dangers caused by road traffic. Against this backdrop, an attempt is made to assess the traffic safetyknowledge of school of children in Greater Visakha, Andhra Pradesh taking asample of 300 school children from different schools and convents. This paperalso details the school children’s perspective on traffic safety across differentdimensions. This paper recommends “safe feet” programme to be a permanentpart of the primary school curriculum enabling the rural children developobservational skills and knowledge and understanding of traffic, thereby gaincomprehension as to how they should behave on roads to keep themselves andalso other road users safe. 1
  2. 2. CHILD SAFETY ON ROADS – A CAUSE FOR CONCERN ByDr. B. Mohan Venkatram, Ph.D. Prof. M. Madhusudhana Rao, Ph.D.Associate Professor Department of Commerce &Department of Commerce and Management StudiesManagement Studies, Andhra University Andhra UniversityVisakhapatnam – 530 003 Visakhapatnam – 530 003 In many Less Developed Countries (LDCs) pedestrians form major part ofvulnerable group of road users. Further more, the young, have been identifiedas being especially at higher risk on roads. Most children who have beeninjured in road accident need long term medical treatment and care leading toenormous grief and considerable economic burden on the family concerned. Empirical research studies reveal that the single major contributingfactor for many such accidents is lack of road safety knowledge leading tounsafe behaviour by children. If children are to be safe on roads, theprerequisite is that they must be equipped with knowledge, understanding andskill to deal with the various traffic situations and the possible dangers oftraffic. Accidents involving school children belonging to less than 16 years agegroup on an average contribute to 20 per cent of pedestrian fatalities in LDCs,hence child safety has become a cause for concern. Low knowledge level amongthe children in LDCs in respect of road safety is a major contributory factor formany accidents. In view of the importance of this section of pedestrians, anattempt is made in the present paper to analyse the attitudes and behaviour ofschool children across various dimensions of road safety, their safetyawareness levels, involvement in road accidents, perception regarding roadsafety education programmes, common problems faced by the children,suggestions for the improvement of the road safety, etc. The study has been 2
  3. 3. conducted in Greater Visakha, which is one of the fastest growing cities inAsia. In all, 10 major schools in the city spread over all the areas have beenselected with a sample size of 300 school children.I. Personal Characteristics of the Respondents: Table-1 presents that majority respondents representing 92 percentbelong to more than 10 years age group and the rest have less than 10 yearsage. The range of the age falls between 8–16 years, 261 out of 300 respondents(87.00 per cent) are pursuing secondary education and the remaining arepursuing primary education. Several studies have identified that childrenbelow the age of four years cannot recognize roads, traffic and they need to beescorted. Children between the age of 5 and 7 can stop, look and listen beforecrossing road. This section of children know how to get into and alight the busand have some knowledge of crossing roads. Children belonging to the agegroup of 8 to 12 years can understand speeds of various vehicles flying on theroads. They also understand visibility, vehicle control etc. Children above theage of 12 years can understand traffic rules and could minimize the risk ofmeeting with road accidents. With regard to means of transport, a little higher than one-third of therespondents (34.33 per cent) come to school on foot, followed by bicycle (24.00per cent), bus (16.00 per cent) and auto rickshaw (14.67 per cent) and 2-wheelers (parent ride) (7.67 per cent), while the lowest percent (3.00) of childrespondents reach school by other means such as 4-wheeler (motor car).Thus, majority school going children (175 out of 300 respondents) areattending schools either on foot or riding bicycle. 46 per cent of the childrentravel between 2 to 5 kilometers from their dwelling to reach the school. 3
  4. 4. Table -1 : PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF RESPONDENTS (SCHOOL GOING CHILDREN) Item No. of Respondents % to TotalAge :Less than 10 years 24 8.00More than 10 years 273 92.00Total 300 100..00Education :Primary 39 13.00Secondary 261 87.00Total 300 100.00Mode of Travel :Walk 103 34.33Bi-cycle 72 24.002 Wheelers (Parent Ride) 23 7.674 Wheelers (Car) Parent driver 9 3.00Auto Rickshaw 44 14.67Bus 48 16.00Others 1 0.33Total 300.00 100.00Distance from the House to School :Less than 2 km 124 41.332 – 5 km 138 46.006 – 10 km 25 8.33More than 10 km 13 4.34Total 300 100.00Travel time from House to School :Less than 5 minutes 75 25.005 – 10 minutes 98 32.6710 – 20 minutes 69 23.0021 – 30 minutes 38 12.67More than 30 minutes 20 6.66Total 300 100.00 4
  5. 5. II. Perception of School children on Traffic and Road Accidents in the Study Area: It is observed from Table-2 that 38.00 per cent of the respondents opinedthat traffic is dangerous because of lack of required traffic sense among roadusers followed by accident blackspots that are prone to accidents (31.33 percent) and over speeding of vehicles (22.34 per cent). An overwhelming majorityof respondents (84.33 per cent) have witnessed a road accident while about 27respondents (9.00 per cent) got themselves, involved in road accidents.Regarding nature of accidents among the 27 respondents involved, 48.45 percent of them had rear end-dash collision, followed by head-on-collision (37.03per cent) and slippery (14.82 per cent).III. Perception of School Children Walking Habits/Road behaviour in the Study Area: Table – 3 presents that nearly three fourths of respondents (221 and outof 300) are of the opinion that roads are not safe to walk, and 64.00 per cent ofrespondents reported that in the absence of Foot paths, they had to walk onthe road itself. It is understood that about four-fifths of the child respondents(79.33 per cent) cross the road by themselves and rest (20.67 per cent) areescorted by elders. An overwhelming proportion of respondents (92.67 per cent) agreed thatgetting out of car from left side is safe and significant proportion of respondents(79.00 per cent) expressed that crossing the road behind a parked car isdangerous. As many as 296 respondents out of 300 sample expressed thatcrossing the road at zebra crossing line is safe. Almost all the respondents (297out of 300) have learnt riding bicycle in the play ground. A majorityrespondents (93.33 per cent) are aware that jumping or alighting from amoving bus is dangerous. 5
  6. 6. Table – 2 : SCHOOL CHILDREN’S PERCEPTIONS ON ROAD ACCIDENTS Particulars No. of % to Total Respondentsa) Traffic is Dangerous because :Lack of Safe environment 25 8.33Accident proneness (at black spots) 94 31.33Lack of traffic sense 114 38.00Over speeding 67 22.34Total 300 100.00b) Have you ever seen any Road Accident :Yes 253 84.33No 47 15.67Total 300 100.00c) Have you ever met with any Road Accident :Yes 27 9.00No 273 91.00Total 300 100.00d) Nature of Accidents involved:Rear-end collision 13 48.45Head-on-collision 10 37.02Slippery 4 14.82Total 27 100.00 6
  7. 7. IV. Traffic safety awareness among school children: Table-3 exhibits that as many as 282 child respondents (94.00 per cent)know that people who walk on the road are called as pedestrians. Majorityrespondents (58.67 per cent) expressed that pedestrians should walk onfootpath, while others, ignorantly replied walking at one edge of the road (35.67per cent) and walking on the middle of the road (5.66 per cent). Regarding road crossings, nearly half of the respondents (49.67 per cent)cross the road at signals when the light is shown green. But a significantproportion of them (44.33 per cent) cross the road even the traffic signal lightglows red (44.33 per cent) and amber (6.00 per cent). The child respondentsprefer yellow colour signal lights (44.00 per cent) as the one that can be seenclearly in the night time, followed by red (39.00 per cent) and blue (17.00 percent). Regarding children while crossing the road in the absence of trafficcontrol, a majority of them (176) stop on the footpath then look to their rightbefore crossing the road followed by look to the right then left and cross (35.67per cent) look at both sides and run fast (5.00 per cent) and look left and cross(0.66 per cent). Thus, regarding the Kerb drill, the children have to beeducated properly enabling them to cross the roads safely. Most of the child respondents (90.33 per cent) have knowledge abouttraffic police. Four-fifths of the respondents opined that the function of trafficpolice is control of traffic, followed by helping children to cross the road (10.33per cent), inculcate traffic sense especially among children (8.67 per cent) andimpose fines on traffic rules violaters (10.33 per cent).V. Perceptions of school children on Road safety system: It is also observed from Table-3 that an overwhelming proportion ofrespondents (98.33 per cent) expressed that playing on road is not safe.Similarly, almost all the respondents (99.00 per cent) expressed that chasing akite or baloon on road and also running across the road are not safe. Further a 7
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  9. 9. Table – 3 : TRAFFIC SAFETY AWARENESS AMONG SCHOOL CHILDREN Particulars No. of % to Total Respondents1) Roads are Safe to walk :Yes 79 26.33No 221 73.67Total 300 100.002) Walk on the Road if there is no footpath :True 192 64.00False 18 36.00Total 300 100.003) How do you Cross the Road :Self 238 79.33Escorted by elder 62 20.67Total 300 100.004) Getting out car you must get out on Left Side :True 278 92.67False 22 7.33Total 300 100.005) Crossing the Road behind a Parked Car :Dangerous 237 79.00Safe 63 21.00Total 300 100.006) Safe to Cross Road at the Zebra Crossings :True 296 98.67False 4 1.33Total 300 100.007) Learning to Ride a Bicycle you must :Ride in the play ground 297 99.00Ride on the Road 3 1.00Total 300 100.008) Never Jump get out of a Moving Bus :True 280 93.33False 20 6.679) Wait until the bus had left and cross at the safe 300 100.00place :True 292 97.33False 8 2.67Total 300 100.0010) People walk on the road called as :Pedestrians 282 94.00Traffic 3 1.00Public 14 4.67Don’t know 1 0.33Total 300 100.00 9
  10. 10. 11) Pedestrian is a person who :Uses the road on foot 297 99.00Drives a car - -Travelling bus - -Rides Motor vehicles 3 1.00Total 300 100.0012) Pedestrian should walk :On the edge of the road 107 35.67On footpath 176 58.67Middle of the road 17 5.66Total 300 100.0013) Walking on footpath is bad :Dangerous 11 3.67Safe 289 96.33Total 300 100.0014) When should you cross road at a signal :Red 133 44.33Green 149 49.67Aumber 18 6.00Total 300 100.0015) Which colour can be seen clear by in the night time:Blue 51 17.00Yellow 132 44.00Red 117 39.00Total 300 100.0016) Before crossing the road in absence of trafficcontrol :Look at the right then left and again to the right cross 107 35.67Stop on the footpath look to right 176 58.67Look at both sides and run fast 15 5.00Look left and cross 2 0.66Total 300 100.0017) Whether you are aware of traffic police role :Yes 271 90.33No 29 9.67Total 300 100.0018) What is the function of traffic police:To controls traffic 238 79.33To impose fines 5 1.67To inculcate traffic sense 26 8.67To help children to cross road 31 10.33Total 300 100.0019) Is it safe to play on road :Yes 5 1.67No 295 98.33Total 300 100.00 10
  11. 11. 20) Is it chasing a kite or a ball on road :Dangerous 297 99.00Safe 3 1.00Total 300 100.0021) Is it safe to run across the road :Yes 3 1.00No 297 99.00Total 300 100.0022) Is it safe to run at the side of the road :Safer 60 20.00Not safer 240 80.00Total 300 100.0023) Is it more alert crossing the road in rain :True 297 99.00False 3 1.00Total 300 100.0024) Do you know what is traffic safetyYes 278 92.67No 22 7.33Total 300 100.0025) Sources for learning as out traffic safety :Parents 94 31.33Teachers 138 46.00Friends 9 3.00Police 15 5.00Voluntary organizations 15 5.00Others 7 2.33Total 278 100.0026) Has any programme been conducted on trafficsafety in your school :Yes 106 35.33No 194 64.67Total 300 100.0027) Place to conduct road safety awareness programmesome children attended more than one programme :Schools 46 15.33On roads/junctions 50 16.67Police control room 8 2.67R.T.O. Office 10 3.33 11
  12. 12. majority of respondents (240) stated that running at either side of the road isnot safe. 297 respondents (99.00 per cent) felt that they should be more alertwhile crossing the road in rain.VI. Perception of School Children on Road Safety Education Programmes Table-3 also depicts that large number of respondents (278) have theknowledge of traffic safety. Of them, 138 child respondents (46.0 per cent)learnt traffic safety from their teachers, followed by parents (31.33 per cent),voluntary organizations and police (5.00 per cent each) and friends (3.00 percent). About 35.33 per cent of the respondents expressed safety programmesshould be conducted in the school premises whereas a majority 64.67 referredtraffic safety programmes to be conducted outside the school. Further, 16.67per cent child respondents expressed that to best places to conduct road safetyprogrammes are important road junctions, followed by schools (15.33 per cent),R.T.O. Office (3.33 per cent) and police control room (2.67 per cent)respectively.VII. Opinions of School children on Reasons for traffic risk in the Study Area: The reasons for unsafe conditions are many and are presented intable-4. Rash driving (62.33 per cent), repeated occurrence of accidents atsome road points due to accidents proneness specific to that point, (58.67 percent), lack of traffic control (54.67 per cent), alcohol consumption by vehicledrivers (52.57 per cent), narrow roads (52.33 per cent), high extent of trafficflow (47.33 per cent), lack of foot paths/zebra crossings (46.33 per cent),violation of traffic rules (45.33 per cent), lack of traffic sense and absence oftraffic police in the early hours (42.67 per cent each) lack of speed breakers(39.00 per cent), poor roads /repairs/ pits (38.33 per cent), lack of trafficsignals (35.67 per cent), neglecting traffic signals (31.67 per cent) andindiscriminate road crossings (25.00 per cent) are reasons specified by theschool children as factors responsible for traffic risk. 12
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  14. 14. Table – 4 : REASONS ATTRIBUTED BY SCHOOL CHILDREN FOR TRAFFIC UNSAFETY Reason No. of Respondents % to Total1. Rash driving 187 62.332. Pollution 79 26.333. Lack of traffic sense 128 42.674. Narrow roads 157 52.335. Violating traffic rules 136 45.336. Bad road conditions 115 38.337. Indiscriminate road crossings 63 21.008. Lack of one-ways 29 9.679. Lack of speed breakers 17 39.0010. Lack of footpaths/zebra crossings 139 46.3311. Driving and drinking 158 52.6712. Lack of traffic control 164 54.6713. Not following traffic signals 195 31.6714. Lack of traffic police presence 128 42.67VIII. Suggestions given by school children for the Improvement of Road Safety: An attempt has also been made to elicit the opinions and suggestions ofschool children to improve traffic safety. It is observed from Table-5 that amajority of respondents suggested that drivers should avoid drinking/rashdriving (67.33 per cent), followed by presence of traffic police at every junction(56.00 per cent), provision of signal lights at all important junctions (55.00 percent), educating children on road safety on a regular basis (53.00 per cent),elemination of road occupations (45.67 per cent), provision of foot paths/zebracrossings wherever necessary (43.00 per cent), improve road conditions (39.00per cent), regulate teenage driving (36.67 per cent), stopping play and run onroads (31.67 per cent), insisting children to cross road with assistance of theadults (28.33 per cent), follow traffic rules strictly (27.33 per cent),slow/cautious driving at schools and placing police at schools during schoolopening and closing timings (26.00 per cent each), use NCC/NSS voluntaryagencies to control traffic (25.33 per cent), run more number buses to children(22.33 per cent), regulating children to walk on foot path and to cross the roads 14
  15. 15. at zebra lines (21.00 per cent), earmarking separate lines for cycle/pedestrians(20.67 per cent) and provision of speed breakers at schools (12.33 per cent). It is evident from the above analysis that a majority school children arepedestrians, followed by cycle riders and those who travel by 3-wheeler auto-rickshaws to reach schools regularly, highlighting their vulnerability on roads.Moreover, a majority of the children expressed that lots of problems were beingfaced due to high density traffic, rash driving, road encroachments, irregularparking of vehicles, lack of traffic control etc. Apart from this, most of theeducational institutions, schools, colleges are located in the central and coreareas of the city. As a result, the choatic situation is emerging andsignificantly affecting safety on roads. Table - 5 : SUGGESTIONS GIVEN BY RESPONDENTS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF ROAD SAFETY IN THE STUDY AREA Item No. of % to Respondents Total1) Provision of footpath/zebra crossings wherever 129 43.00necessary for all roads2) Avoid playing and running in the/along the roads 95 31.673) Improvement road conditions 117 39.004) Provide traffic police at every junction 168 56.005) Children should walk on footpaths and zebra 63 21.00crossing only6) Children cross roads with assistance of the adults 85 28.337) Provide signal lights at all important junctions 165 55.008) Put speed limit boards at school zones and enforce 21 7.009) Require road safety programmes for children 159 53.0010) Provide speed breakers at schools 37 12.3311) Traffic police should help children in crossing road 118 39.3312) Run special buses to children 67 22.3313) Provide police at schools during school going time 78 26.0014) Elimination of road footpath encroachments 137 45.6715) Avoid drunken/rash driving 202 67.3316) Use voluntary agencies also to control traffic 76 25.33 15
  16. 16. In view of the above revelations, the paper recommends ‘safe feet’programme designed by TRL-DFID for the use of LDCs at School level to betaught and practiced across four sequential rounds viz., (1) Road Environment;(2) Pedestrian rules; (3) Traffic rules; and (4) Safe survival. 16