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Reports: Speeding Not A Cause Of Child Accidents
Reports from the UK and Washington state question suggest speed does not play a major role in child or pedestrian accidents.

Child pedestrian
On August 30, Chicago, Illinois announced the locations for fifty speed cameras in school zones and parks. Officials insist the goal of the program is to protect children from being run over by speeding drivers by heavily enforcing the posted speed limit. A report from the UK Department for Transport (DfT) using 2009 data and a report from King County, Washington using 2000 to 2003 data suggest exceeding the speed limit is not a significant cause of child or pedestrian accidents.

The DfT examined the factors that police investigators gave for 6,244 accidents in which a child pedestrian up to age 15 was injured in Great Britain in 2009. Whenever a police officer responds to the scene of an incident, he records the factors on what is known as a STATS20 form. More than one factor can be listed, so that totals can add up to more than 100 percent.

"These are the key actions and failures that in the opinion of the reporting police officer led directly to the incident," the DfT report explained. "It includes only incidents where a police officer attended the scene and reported at least one contributory factor."

In 72 percent of the accidents, investigators believed the child's failure to look properly was at least in part to blame. Another 31 percent involved reckless behavior on the part of the child, including playing in the road in 11 percent of incidents. In 13 percent of the cases, the police found the child did nothing that contributed to the accident.

On the part of the driver, 8 percent failed to look properly, and another 8 percent could not see the child because of a parked car or other obstruction. In 3 percent of cases the driver was reckless, and in less than 1 percent of cases was "traveling too fast for conditions" (which is not necessarily exceeding the posted speed limit). All together, in 71 percent of the incidents, the driver was not found to be at fault. (PDF File view report, 350k PDF).

The results are not necessarily limited to child pedestrian incidents. King County and the city of Seattle examined reports for all pedestrian accidents from 2000 to 2003. In 45 percent of cases, investigators determined that the driver did nothing wrong, and police officers issued no ticket in more than 60 percent of cases. Inattention (14 percent), failure to yield (10 percent) and driving under the influence of alcohol (9.3 percent) were the most common causes. Speeding was only mentioned in 4 accident reports, and only one speeding ticket was issued. (PDF File view report, 650k PDF).

According to a 2012 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 293 children under age 15 were killed while walking in the United States in 2010. Out of 4227 total fatalities for all ages, the pedestrian was legally drunk in one-third of the incidents. The driver was legally intoxicated 14 percent of the time. In 6 percent of the cases, a drunk driver hit a drunk pedestrian. (PDF File view report, 1.3mb PDF).

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