ANNEX 2 REVIEW OF ROAD ACCIDENT CASUALTIES
REVIEW OF ROAD ACCIDENT CASUALTIES INVOLVING CHILDREN IN SCOTLAND
This part of the study comprises a brief review of the most recent road accident data for Scotland 30. The problems facing children during the transition between primary and secondary are well known and were, for example, set out in booklet published by the AA Motoring Trust 31 in which data for Great Britain showed that 11-12 year olds are twice as likely as a 10 year old to be killed or injured in a road accident on the school journey.
The purpose of this review is to quantify the problems in terms of the reported casualty numbers in Scotland involving children during the transition from primary to secondary school. To show the wider context, the review looks at differences by road user type, severity of injury, age and contributory factors 32 across children of all school ages. Some more detailed analysis is also provided for children in the 10-13 year old age group.
Casualties for children of school age
In total, over the five year period 2002-2006, 10,289 children aged 5-15 were killed or injured 33 in road accidents. Figure 1 shows the distribution by road user type. It is evident that there is:
- A step change in the number of casualties at the age of 12 and that it is associated with an increase in the number of pedestrian accidents to/from school
- An increase in the number of car occupant casualties as children approach the age of 16
- A slight decrease in the number of cyclist casualties as children approach the age of 16
Figure 1: All casualties for children by age and road user group (2002- 2006)
Over the same period (2002-2006) the number of killed and seriously injured ( KSI) casualties was 1,851. These are shown by road user type in Figure 2. There are clear peaks in pedestrian casualties at the ages of 8 and 12. The main changes for the over 12 age group relate to:
- A decrease in the number of pedestrian casualties
- An increase in the number of car (and other vehicle) occupant casualties
Figure 2: KSI casualties for children by age and road user group (2002- 2006)
The analysis of all casualties hides a number of interesting and relevant trends that are occurring over the transition between primary and secondary school, which are discussed in more detail below.
Casualties in accidents on journeys to or from school
The number of children involved in road accidents who were reported as being on a journey to or from school over the five period was 2,184. This means that 21% of all child casualties occur on these journeys.
The number of child casualties occurring on journeys to/from school is very highly peaked around the age of 12, increasing almost threefold from the age of 10 to the age of 12. This increase is associated with the increase in pedestrian casualties at the age of 12. The number falls as children approach the age of 16 (see Figure 3). This is a clear indication of the problems that face children as pedestrians when they begin to travel further and more independently to school.
Figure 3: All casualties for children on a journey to/from school by age and road user group (2002- 2006)
In contrast, Figure 4 shows the number of child casualties in accidents occurring when children are not on a journey to/from school. The trend here is very different for children on a journey to/from school (Figure 3). In Figure 4 there is a general increase in the number of casualties by age without any discernible peaks. The exception is that the number of car occupant casualties rise as children approach the age of 16.
Figure 4: All casualties for children not on a journey to/from school by age and road user group (2002- 2006)
It is clear from this analysis that the increase in child casualties during the transition from primary to secondary school is directly related to the increase in the number of children being injured as pedestrians in accidents on journeys to and from school.
Differences between boys and girls
Of the 10,289 casualties 6,049 (59%) were boys and 4,236 (41%) were girls (4 casualties were not assigned a sex in the accident data) (see Table 1).
Table 1: Casualties by sex and road user type (2002-2006)
Sex of Casualty 1
Road User Type
Number of Casualties
other vehicle occupant
other vehicle occupant
1 4 casualties were not assigned a sex in the reported accident data
The data for these casualties for pedestrians, car occupants and cyclists have been split by sex and are presented in Figure 5. The main points to note are:
- Over all ages, more boys than girls are injured as pedestrians and cyclists
- As children approach the age of 16 more girls than boys are injured as car occupants
Figure 5: All casualties for children by sex, age and road user group (2002- 2006)
The primary to secondary transition
To study the transition from primary to secondary school in more detail, the following analysis focuses on children in the final two years of primary school and the first two years of secondary school. Accordingly, children in the 10-11 age group have been mapped to the P6/P7 school years and those in the 12-13 age group have been mapped to S1/S2 34. The casualty numbers for 2002-2006 are summarised in Table 2. Over this period there were 560 more casualties in the S1/S2 age group than in P6/P7, comprising a 30% increase over the transition from primary to secondary school. This increase is in casualties is driven by an increase in slight injuries. The equivalent increase in KSI (Killed and Seriously Injured) casualties is greater at 35%.
Table 2: Child casualties in the P6/P7 and S1/S2 age groups by severity (2002- 2006)
Figure 6 shows the number of casualties for all severities in the P6/P7 and S1/S2 ranges and there is a rise of 459 in the number of pedestrian casualties in the S1/S2 age group, some 53% higher than that for P6/P7. The increase in pedestrian casualties accounts for some 82% of the overall increase in casualties.
A similar picture (Figure 7) is evident for KSI casualties, with the S1/S2 figure some 49% higher than that for P6/P7. The increase in KSI pedestrian casualties similarly accounts for some 92% of the overall increase in KSI casualties. Changes in the other road user types are very much less marked.
Figure 6: all casualties by road user type by age group (2002-2006)
Figure 7: KSI casualties by road user type by age group (2002-2006)
The severity of injury does not alter markedly across the transition to secondary school. The severity ratios for each road user type are shown in Figure 8 where:
Number of KSI casualties
Number of all casualties
The figures for bus passenger and other vehicle occupant are based on a low number of KSI casualties and should be regarded with caution.
Figure 8: Severity ratios by road user type by age group (2002-2006)
The distribution of S1/S2 casualties separately for boys and girls is shown by road user type in Figure 9. The key points are:
- 40% more boys are injured than girls as pedestrians
- Boys are six times more likely than girls to be injured as a cyclist
- 25% more girls than boys are injured as a car occupant
- Just over a third (36%) more girls are injured as bus passengers than boys.
Figure 9: Casualty totals by road user type and sex for the S1/S2 age group (2002- 2006)
Figure 10 presents the distribution of all casualties by month for the P6/P7 and S1/S2 age groups based on the percentage of annual accident numbers occurring in each month over the period 2002-2006. It is clear that the numbers of casualties peak during the summer months (April to September) for children in the P6/P7 age group and that this is statistically significant ( P <<0.001 - 2x2 Chi Square Test with Yates' correction, with 1 degree of freedom). For children in the S1/S2 age group most casualties occur in the winter months (October to March), although this result is not statistically significant, the difference between the distribution of P6/P7 and S1/S2 children is statistically significant ( P <<0.001 - Chi Square Test, with 11 degrees of freedom).
Figure 10: Monthly distribution of all casualties by age group and month of year (percentage of annual casualties by month) (2002- 2006)
Further analysis indicates it is the distribution of pedestrian casualties influences these different peaks. Figure 11 shows the monthly distribution for pedestrian casualties where it is clear that there different distributions for P6/P7 and S1/S2 children: this difference is statistically significant ( P << 0.001 - Chi Square Test with 11 degrees of freedom). It is also clear that the number of pedestrian casualties peak during the winter months for children in the S1/S2 age group: that this is statistically significant ( P <<0.001 - 2x2 Chi Square Test with Yates' correction, with 1 degree of freedom). For children in the P6/P7 age group, most pedestrian casualties occur in the summer months, although this is not statistically significant.
Figure 11: Monthly distribution of pedestrian casualties by age group and month of year (percentage of annual casualties by month) (2002 - 2006)
Figure 12 shows the distribution for all non-pedestrian casualties, where it is clearly evident that for both P6/P7 and S1/S2 children the number of casualties peaks during the summer months. These results are statistically significant ( P <<0.001 (for S1/S2 children) and P <0.05 (for P6/P7children) - 2x2 Chi Square Tests with Yates' correction, with 1 degree of freedom). The distributions for P6/P7 and S1/S2 are not statistically significantly different from each other.
Figure 12: Monthly distribution of all non-pedestrian casualties by age group and month of year (percentage of annual casualties by month) (2002 - 2006)
Contributory factors for pedestrian accidents
Contributory Factor ( CF) data are reported against individual road accidents. The aim of collecting the CFs is to seek to explain what factors may have played a role in causing an accident. Since January 2005 the collection of CFs now forms part of the standard road accident reporting system adopted by the Government.
When information for an accident is collected, the reporting officer completes a section relating to CFs. The officer may identify more than one factor, which may relate to more than one environmental factor, road user or vehicle involved. The CFs reflect the reporting officer's opinion at the time of reporting and, accordingly, may not be the result of extensive investigation. Consequently, it is recognised that subsequent enquiries could result in a change in the reporting officer's opinion. CFs are, therefore, largely subjective, and depend upon the skill and experience of the investigating officer to reconstruct the events which led directly to the accident. Given the difficulties in reconstructing the events that led to an accident, the evidence may be of variable quality, so the officer is able to record "very likely" or "possible" for each CF depending on the strength of the evidence available at the time.
The CFs are standardised and the reporting officer is presented with a comprehensive list of possible factors and may provide up to six factors that may be relevant. In total there are 76 individual factors which relate to causes of accidents. Each factor is cross-referenced to the scene of the accident, road user or vehicle as is considered relevant by the officer concerned. It is emphasised that more than one factor may be related to the same road user and that the same factor may be related to more than one road user (driver or pedestrian), if appropriate.
In the two year period 2005-2006 the number of accidents involving P6/P7 and S1/S2 children as pedestrian casualties was 766. The number of pedestrian casualties involved in these accidents was 781 (as more than one child may have been involved in the accident). CFs were recorded against 761 of these accidents (because CFs are not mandatory but encouraged). In one accident, casualties in both P6/P7 and S1/S2 were recorded and this accident has been discounted from the analysis to follow. In these remaining 760 accidents there were 1,417 individual CFs reported. Of these 760 accidents, 279 involved P6/P7 children and 481 involved S1/S2 children.
The frequency of CFs for all pedestrian accidents is set out in Table 3. Care should be taken in the interpretation of these data as more than one CF may be related to the same road user and also CFs may be provided for more than one road user in any one accident. It is clear that in the view of the reporting officers, inappropriate actions by pedestrians are major contributory factors in road accidents for this age group. Indeed, in two thirds of all accidents it is reported that the pedestrian failed to look properly. Individual driver and road environment CFs are reported much less frequently.
Table 3: Frequency of contributory factors for all accidents involving P6/P7 and S1/S2 children as pedestrians (2005- 2006)
Number of CFs reported
CFs as a % of accidents
[Pedestrian] Failed to look properly
[Pedestrian] Crossing road masked by stationary or parked vehicle
[Pedestrian] Careless, reckless or in a hurry
[Pedestrian] Failed to judge vehicle's path or speed
[Pedestrian] Dangerous action in carriageway (eg. playing)
[Driver or rider] Vision affected by stationary or parked vehicle(s)
[Driver or rider] Failed to look properly
[Pedestrian] Wrong use of pedestrian crossing facility
[Road environment] Road layout (eg. bend, hill, narrow carriageway)
[Driver or rider] Passing too close to cyclist, horse rider or pedestrian
[Driver or rider] Careless, reckless or in a hurry
*Other factors include:
406 [Driver or rider] Failed to judge other person's path or speed 16 records
103 [Road environment] Slippery road (due to weather) 15 records
809 [Pedestrian] Pedestrian wearing dark clothing at night 13 records
707 [Driver or rider] Rain, sleet, snow or fog 10 records
Beyond the transition from primary to secondary school
Children in their early to mid teens begin to travel as passengers in cars driven by younger and relatively inexperienced drivers 35 and this is borne out by the data used in this study. Table 4 shows the distribution of driver and casualty ages. It is clear that until children reach the age of 13 very few are casualties in cars driven by younger adults, but as they progress through their teens this proportion increases so that at age 16 over half (59%) of all car passenger casualties are in cars driven by young adults aged 17-20. Some passengers are injured in cars where the age of the driver is below the legal limit of 17 years of age. This provides a reminder that illegal driving before the age of 17 puts road users at risk.
Table 4: Age of car driver by percentage of car passenger casualties by age (2002-2006)
Age of driver
Age of car passenger casualty
25 and over
Figure 13 charts the distribution of car passenger casualties by age of casualty and age of driver over the five year period 2002-2006. The young adult age group 17-24 has been split into two bands (17-20 and 21-24) to allow for a direct comparison of younger drivers with older drivers in this age group. It is very evident that from the age of 13 the number of children injured in cars driven by young adults in the 17-20 age group rises very sharply. There is a rise in the number of children injured in cars driven by the 21-24 driver age group, although this is less marked. The number of child passenger casualties falls for drivers in the adult age group (25 and over) and there a few casualties reported in cars with drivers under 17 (as the legal driving age is 17, the actual number of drivers under this age is likely to be low).
Figure 13: All child car passenger casualties by age of casualty and by age of driver (2002- 2006).
The data for all car passenger casualties masks a clear distinction between the patterns for boy and girl casualties. Figures 14 and 15 show the equivalent data for young male and female car passenger casualties respectively - it should be noted that the scales on the y-axes of these figures are different (for reasons of clarity) . For boys, the number of car passenger casualties rises very sharply as they approach the age of 16 and is largely accounted for by cars driven by 17-20 year olds. Indeed, drivers in this age group account for 54% of all 15 year old boy car passenger casualties. For girls, although the number casualties in cars driven by 17-20 year olds rises slightly as girls approach the age of 16, by comparison with boys, drivers in the 17-20 year old age group account for 19% of all 15 year old girl car passenger casualties.
Figure 14: Male car passenger casualties by age of casualty and by age of driver (2002- 2006).
Figure 15: Female car passenger casualties by age of casualty and by age of driver (2002-2006).
Messages for this research
As children grow older their involvement as casualties in road accidents changes. This needs to be recognised and addressed by the road safety community in its efforts to change attitudes and behaviour to reduce casualties. The key points regarding primary to secondary school transition relevant to this research are:
1. The number of casualties increases as children move from primary to secondary school: 30% more children are killed or injured in the S1/S2 years than in the P6/P7 years.
2. The number of child casualties occurring on journeys to/from school is very highly peaked around the age of 12 increasing almost threefold from the age of 10 to the age of 12. This peak is not observed for non-school journeys.
3. The increase in the number of pedestrian casualties accounts for 82% of the rise in all casualties and 92% of the rise in KSI casualties. In terms of numbers this is driven by an increase in slight injuries.
4. In S1/S2 boys are more likely than girls to be injured as pedestrians and cyclists.
5. In S1/S2 the number of pedestrian casualties is higher in the winter months than at other times of the year.
6. In police road accident reports, the pedestrian 'failing to look properly when hit' and being 'careless, reckless or in a hurry' were key factors contributing to road accidents involving pedestrians of S1/S2 age.
7. Car passenger casualties rise as boys approach the age of 16. By the age of 15 more than half of these casualties occur in cars driven by drivers aged 17-20.