Modelling factors that impact the use of child safety seats for nursery school travel
Keywords:child car seats, child restraint systems, preschool children, socioeconomic status
Children, as one of the most vulnerable road user groups, are exposed to a high risk of traffic crash-related injuries and fatalities. Children’s incomplete physical and cognitive development leads to inaccurate detection of traffic hazards and inadequate road crossing decisions. When young children travel as car occupants, their body structures are immature, and restraint over larger and sometimes different body areas is necessary. Therefore, children’s vulnerability as car occupants is subject to their age and physical development. This research investigates factors influencing child car seat usage, particularly child restraint systems or booster seats, for commuting to nursery schools. An experimental study was conducted in three suburbs of Athens, Greece, with distinctive socioeconomic status (SES) and built environment characteristics. For this purpose, a self-administered parental questionnaire was completed for 734 children attending municipality nursery schools, exploring the traffic safety practices for preschool children, child-parent interactions, the parent’s risk perception, behaviour, and knowledge of traffic safety. Responses reveal that the surveyed children—irrespective of the residence area—travel to the nursery school mainly as car occupants (89.6% overall, ranging between 84.8% for the area with the lowest SES and 96.1% for the area with the highest SES). In addition, the results indicate that three-quarters of the children are often placed in a car seat, while almost one-quarter are never restrained. Regression and structural equation models are estimated and used to examine factors affecting the usage of child safety seats. Finally, conclusions are drawn, along with suggestions to overcome the limitations and complete this research with ongoing and future data collection and analyses.
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