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
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.
| || Group |
| ||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
- Gender: more boys than girls have good road sense.
- Eyesight: twice as many children having poor eyesight were
found in the poor road sense group.
- Maternal personality: children with poor road sense had
mothers with relatively high neuroticism scores.
- Intelligence: children with poor road sense tended to have
higher IQs and to score somewhat better on the test of spatial
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