Altering School Attendance Times to Prevent Child Pedestrian Injuries
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OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this research was to determine whether modifying school start time schedules can be used to reduce children's exposure to traffic on their morning walks to school. METHODS: We use models of pedestrian and motor vehicle commuting to estimate the frequency of encounters between child pedestrians and motor vehicles at intersections throughout the City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. We use a simple heuristic to identify the school-specific start times that would most reduce the local frequency of encounters between motor vehicles and pedestrians. RESULTS: Our analysis suggests that it may be possible to achieve an almost 15 percent reduction in the total number of encounters between child pedestrians and motor vehicles during the morning commute by staggering school start times such that the periods of high pedestrian activity are temporally staggered from periods of high motor vehicle activity. Our analysis suggests that small changes in school start times could be sufficient to see noteworthy reductions in pedestrian exposure to traffic. CONCLUSIONS: Changing school times may be an effective, inexpensive, and practical tool for reducing child pedestrian injuries in urban environments. Enhanced transportation models and community-based interventions are natural next steps for exploring the use of school-specific scheduling to reduce the risk of child pedestrian injury. Further research is required to validate our models before this analysis should be used by policy makers.
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