"New research from the University of Iowa shows children under certain ages lack the perceptual judgment and motor skills to cross a busy road consistently without putting themselves in danger. The researchers placed children from 6 to 14 years old in a realistic simulated environment (see video) and asked them to cross one lane of a busy road multiple times. [...] The crossings took place in an immersive, 3-D interactive space at the Hank Virtual Environments Lab on the UI campus. The simulated environment is 'very compelling,' says Elizabeth O'Neal, a graduate student in psychological and brain sciences and the study's first author. 'We often had kids reach out and try to touch the cars.' [...]
The researchers found children as young as 6 crossed the street as quickly as adults, eliminating crossing speed as a possible cause for pedestrian-vehicle collisions.
So what's a child to do? One recommendation is for parents to teach their children to be patient and to encourage younger ones to choose gaps that are even larger than the gaps adults would choose for themselves, O'Neal says. Also, civic planners can help by identifying places where children are likely to cross streets and make sure those intersections have a pedestrian-crossing aid. [...]
Yuanyuan Jiang, Luke Franzen, Pooya Rahimian, all graduate students in the UI's Department of Computer Science, and Joseph Kearney, computer science professor, are contributing authors. Paul Yon, who earned a master's degree at the UI, also contributed to the study.
The U.S. National Science Foundation funded the work through grant awards BCS-1251694 and CNS-1305131."