The UK National Pilot Network of Child Pedestrian Training Schemes Using the Kerbcraft Model
C Stephenson, J Wicks, MVA Ltd., UK; K Whelan, University of the West of England, UK
The Department for Transport are carrying out a major research project to find out how well practical child pedestrian training using the Kerbcraft model can be extended nationally. MVA has been appointed to manage the 5 year national pilot study.
Although Great Britain has a good record for road safety in general, our overall rate of fatalities to child pedestrians, though improving, is consistently higher than in most of the countries of Western Europe. In 2000 the Government set a target to reduce by 40% the number of people killed and seriously injured in Great Britain as a result of road traffic accidents, and a more ambitious target of 50% for children. Both are to be achieved by 2010 with progress being measured against the average for 1994-98. The Government is on track to meet the target. In 2003 child KSI was 40% down compared to the target baseline.
As part of a number of measures aimed to achieve these targets, the Department for Transport (DfT) and Scottish Executive are carrying out a major research project to find out how well practical child pedestrian training, using the Kerbcraft model, can be extended nationally.
The Kerbcraft model was developed by a team of agencies led by Professor James Thomson at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. The scheme is aimed at 5-7 year olds, who are taught in small groups of 2-3, at the roadside, by volunteers. Children are taught 3 skills: how to find a safe place to cross the road; how to cross safely between parked cars; and how to cross safely at junctions. Each skill is taught to the children over four to six half hour sessions. The sessions are typically taught over one school year.
Over a five year period, from 2002 to 2007, the DfT is making £9 million available to selected English Local Authorities that have both deprived areas and a casualty problem. Further funds have been made available by the Scottish Executive for such authorities in Scotland. This will pay for local authority staff (Co-ordinators) who recruit and train volunteers who in turn teach the children. At the peak of the research study, 115 Kerbcraft schemes were selected in England and Scotland. Each is funded for three years and it is hoped that after this time they will find other sources of funding to continue with the training of children using the Kerbcraft model.
MVA has been appointed by the DfT to manage the pilot study. The management of the national pilot project has involved running a competition to select participating Local Authorities; designing and delivering a three day residential training courses for Co-ordinators; running national seminars and regional meetings for Co-ordinators and Local Authority Road Safety Officers; setting up and managing a website and discussion forum; supporting Co-ordinators through site visits, by phone and by email; processing Local Authority grant claim forms, and getting advice on the generation of longer term funding. MVA has also played a key role in producing a video and resource pack to assist co-ordinators in training of volunteers.
On average there are over 1500 volunteers operating at any one time throughout the country, and to date over 30,000 children have received training.
Another project is assessing the effectiveness of this training in different circumstances, and this will provide an evaluation of the transferability of the scheme nationally.
Early results from the evaluation have shown that, after training is complete, children who have received Kerbcraft training are making significantly better decisions about where and how to cross the road than their untrained counterparts.
In a survey conducted in July 2004, 93% of Road Safety Officers responsible for managing the scheme within their Local Authority Departments were pleased or very pleased with the scheme, and 68% wished to continue with the scheme after the pilot study is complete, with a further 18% undecided. Later in 2004 a survey amongst Road Safety Officers whose schemes are due to finish in early 2005 revealed that 57% had either secured or were optimistic about securing funding for Kerbcraft to continue, although some had modifications they wished to make to Kerbcraft once the pilot study is complete.
Association for European Transport