Relations between temperamental fear and risky pedestrian behavior

Academic Article


  • Objective: Child pedestrian injury poses a significant global public health challenge. This study examines relations between temperamental fear and children's risky pedestrian behavior, utilizing mediation analytic strategies to study underlying mechanisms of the hypothesized relation. Methods: As part of a larger study, 240 seven- and eight-year-old children completed 30 crossings in a virtual reality (VR) pedestrian environment. Three pedestrian behaviors were considered: start gap (lag after a traffic gap appears before child initiates crossing into the gap), time to contact (TTC; gap between avatar and the lead oncoming vehicle), and hits (collisions with vehicles in simulated crossings). Temperamental fear was measured by parent report. Results: Fearful children were more likely to be struck by virtual vehicles, and the relation between fear and risky pedestrian behaviors was mediated by start gap and TTC. Specifically, children who were temperamentally more fearful were more likely to hesitate before initiating crossing, which led to shorter gaps between themselves and the oncoming vehicle, hence causing them to be more likely to be hit by virtual vehicles. Gender interacted with fear, such that fearful girls were most likely to be hit. Conclusions: Both temperamental fear and gender influenced the risk of child pedestrian injuries. Delayed entry into traffic and shorter gaps between children and oncoming vehicles may underlie this relation. Future research should explore how these factors might influence the effectiveness of prevention programs.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Shen J; McClure LA; Schwebel DC
  • Start Page

  • 178
  • End Page

  • 184
  • Volume

  • 80