Residential streets most dangerous to kids, says Safe Kids Canada

Drivers need to slow down: a child hit by a car travelling at 50 km/h has an 80 per cent chance of being killed

Toronto, Ontario - May 26, 2008 - A new review of child pedestrian research from Safe Kids Canada demonstrates that our residential streets may be more dangerous for children than we think. More child pedestrian injuries take place on residential roads than anywhere else, and the danger is greatly increased as speed increases.

Child pedestrian incidents are a leading cause of injury-related death for Canadian children under the age of 14. A staggering 2,412 children are seriously injured each year and approximately 30 are killed. The average child pedestrian who is killed in Canada is male, between the ages of 10 and 14 and was crossing the street at an intersection within 5 kilometres of his home. Most incidents occur between 3 - 6 pm when many Canadians are driving home from work. This data was reviewed by Safe Kids Canada and its expert advisors, and unveiled today as part of the kick-off of Safe Kids Week.

What's the rush?

Research demonstrates that a child hit by a car traveling at 50 km/h has an 80 per cent chance of being killed. Yet a child hit by a car traveling at 30 km/h, has up to a 95 per cent chance of surviving. According to a new Safe Kids Canada Harris/Decima survey released today, 14 per cent of Canadian drivers admit to driving at least 10km/hour or more over the speed limit in residential areas. Given the posted residential limits ranging between 40 and 50km/h, this translates into a speed of at least 50 or 60 km/h. Of those who admit to driving above the speed limit in residential neighbourhoods, 52 per cent are driving daily during the 3-6 pm time frame, potentially endangering children playing outdoors.

"We know that child pedestrian injuries are preventable." says Pamela Fuselli, executive director of Safe Kids Canada, the national injury prevention program of The Hospital for Sick Children. "The fact is the majority of children are being hit at an intersection where adults have told them it is safe to cross the street. The evidence shows that drivers can yield to child pedestrians and avoid collisions if they drive the posted speed limit. We're encouraging all drivers to be aware of their speed and drive the posted speed limit. It could mean the difference between life and death to a child."

Obey the law

Driving the posted speed limit is the law. While many residential speed limits are posted at 50 km/ h, research demonstrates that pedestrians and vehicles can co-exist in relative safety if the vehicle is traveling at 30 km/h or less.

According to the Safe Kids Canada Harris/Decima survey,

·    74 per cent of drivers would support a law making 30 km/h the mandatory law in residential areas if they knew it could have a positive impact on child safety.

·    85 per cent of Atlantic Canadians and 81 per cent of Quebecers would support a new law, compared with only 66 per cent of Ontarians

More than a third of Canadians (34 per cent) believe that if a child is hit by a car, the driver is not responsible for the incident. However, the onus is on drivers to maintain and operate a motor vehicle in a responsible manner. It is unreasonable for adults to make children responsible for their own safety on the road. As children's physical and mental capacities are still developing well into their teens, they are unable to make safe judgments about pedestrian safety and therefore cannot be held to the same standards as adults for their decisions.

Slow your pace, it's not a race

Safe Kids Canada is urging Canadians to help make residential neighbourhoods safe for pedestrians:

·    An 11.6 km/h reduction in speed can reduce the chance of hitting a pedestrian by 50 per cent

·    The Community Pace Car program allows Canadian drivers to pledge to stick to the speed limit in residential areas and receive a Community Pace Car "mobile speed bump" decal, available at

·    Concerned citizens can work for by-law changes to reduce residential speed limits and implement pedestrian-friendly urban planning. Walking is also a healthy, 'green' alternative that can be encouraged through urban planning and speed enforcement.

According to Transport Canada

·    Two million Canadians admit to often speeding up to get through a traffic light.

·    More than half (58 per cent) of Canadians admit to having received a speeding ticket.

·    Of those who admitted to speeding: 57 per cent didn't want to be late, 51 per cent believe the speed limits are set too low and 51 per cent weren't paying attention to their speed.

Today marks the start of the 2008 Safe Kids Week - Safe Roads Safe Kids - which runs from May 26 - June 1 and is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. Safe Kids Canada is also pleased to partner with Honda Canada Foundation as the secondary sponsor for Safe Kids Week and reinforce our mutual commitments to safety and education.