1987 Paper

In a study of psychological factors influencing road safety an attempt was made to determine what factors make some children more likely to have accidents than others. An approach was made to all the primary schools in the York area and seven volunteered to take part in the study. The mothers of all 5-year-old children at these schools were asked to fill in a brief questionnaire which included the question: "How happy are you to let your child cross the road alone?" Of the questionnaires returned, 87 mothers responded with "perfectly happy". The children concerned (60 boys and 27 girls) were classified as havlng good road sense. There were 125 responses of "not at all happy" and the children concerned (35 boys and 90 girls) were classified as having poor road sense. A chi-squared test revealed that significantly more boys than girls had good road sense.

These children and their mothers were then subjected to further investigation. The mothers were asked to complete a short personality test (the EPQ). The children were given a test of verbal IQ, a simple test of eyesight which was to ask whether or not they wore glasses, and a newly devised test of their understanding of relevant spatial relationships.

In this final test the children were shown a photograph of a busy street scene and were asked to arrange toy cars on a model street in a way that matched the photograph. Marks were given (out of 10) according to the closeness of the match as judged by the experimenter.

The results of these tests are given in the table below. Scores, apart from that for the eyesight test are group means.

* lndicates a significant (p < .05) difference by a t-test.

Good Road Sense Poor Road Sense
(N = 87) (N = 125)
EPQ N-scale (mothers) 5.2 17.3 *
IQ 94.5 117.4 *
Spatial test 3.2 4.1
Eyesight(number with glasses) 6 12

It was concluded that the following factors influence the likelihood of a child having a road accident:

These findings were interpreted as showing that having good road sense does not depend upon intelligence but is determined by a personality factor (the ability to remain calm when required to make a difficult judgement) that is more likely to be found in boys than in girls and in the children of stable rather than neurotic parents.

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