Supervision of young children in parking lots: Impact on child pedestrian safety

Academic Article


  • Introduction: Pedestrian injuries are a significant pediatric public health concern worldwide. Younger children are at particular risk for pedestrian injuries in parking lots, but there is limited research regarding children's pedestrian behaviors in parking lots. Method: This study examined children's behaviors and safety risks in parking lots through unobtrusive and unannounced observation of 124 children ages 2–10 years and their adult supervisors as they crossed a parking lot from their parked vehicle into a community recreation center. Results: Adult supervision was inadequate: over 67% of children 10 years of age and younger were unsupervised in the parking lot at some point between the vehicle parking and the child entering into the building. Approximately 90% of all children were outside of arm's length of the accompanying adult at some point while in the parking lot. Additionally, children exited the vehicle prior to the adult in over 50% of observations. Age was associated with safety risk, with older children being unsupervised more often than younger ones. Conclusions: Adult supervision of children in a parking lot setting was poor, creating significant safety risks. In addition, many children failed to follow basic pedestrian safety practices themselves, such as looking for moving cars. Injury prevention strategies should be implemented. Practical applications: As researchers gain better understanding about the safety risks for children in parking lots, interventions could target adult and child behaviors through improved supervision, altered perception of risk, and mandated behavioral guidelines for child behavior, such as how and when children exit vehicles in parking lots.
  • Authors

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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rouse JB; Schwebel DC
  • Start Page

  • 201
  • End Page

  • 206
  • Volume

  • 70