Another Case for Speed Cameras: Young Kids Can’t Hear Oncoming Cars

The Wall Street Journal yesterday published the results of a study on how sensitive kids and adults are to the sounds of oncoming vehicles. The findings should be a wake-up call to parents of young children in NYC, where speeding in the vicinity of schools is rampant.

Marty Golden doesn't want speed cameras near NYC schools, where motorists are putting kids' lives at risk.

Using headphones to listen to the sounds of a car approaching at 5, 12, and 25 miles per hour, participants pressed a computer key when they heard the vehicle, when they identified its direction, and when they thought it had arrived at their location. From the Journal:

Adults detected the car significantly earlier than children, though 8- and 9-year-olds heard the car before 6- and 7-year-olds. Adults detected the vehicle traveling at 5 miles per hour at a distance of about 48 feet, compared with 35 feet for younger children and 41 feet for older children. On average, the vehicle was significantly closer to children than adults when it was detected.

Researchers found that the car was detected earlier at 25 mph, when the noises were loudest, but noted that pedestrians have less time to react to faster-moving vehicles, which are more likely to cause serious injury and death. The study said that the detection abilities of kids age 10 and older tend to resemble those of adults. “Older children were better than younger children at determining when a vehicle had arrived at their location,” the Journal said.

The Journal points out that the study did not include environmental sounds that pedestrians usually are exposed to, in addition to car noise.

The study was published by Accident Analysis & Prevention, and was funded in part by Nissan.

Data from NYC DOT show that at 100 locations, 75 percent or more drivers were found speeding within a quarter-mile of a school. DOT wants speed cameras placed near city schools to slow drivers down. While it has the support of NYPD, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and the State Assembly, NYC’s first-ever speed camera program has run into opposition from State Senator Marty Golden, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and AAA New York.

More than 13,000 children ages five to nine are struck by motorists while crossing the street in the U.S. every year, according to figures cited by the Journal. According to crash data compiled by Streetsblog, at least six kids under the age of nine have been killed by NYC motorists since March 2012. Speeding was the leading factor in fatal NYC crashes last year.

Streetsblog has an message in with Golden’s office concerning his reported campaign to keep speed cameras out of NYC.

(h/t to krstrois)