Saturday, October 17, 2009

Keeping children safe: rethinking how we design our surroundings

Injury is the leading cause of death among children in North America, many of them traffic-related injuries that can be traced back to poor community design decisions, like locating a school on the wrong side of a busy street, says Dr. Andrew Howard in a paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Howard set out to look at pedestrian injuries because so much injury investigation in the past has focused on children inside the car, rather than those outside the car.

Injury accounts for about 40 per cent of childhood deaths in industrialized countries. The report says 371,000 boys and 289,000 girls worldwide died of injuries in 2002 — including more than 180,000 killed in traffic accidents, mainly as pedestrians.

As he looked from country to country, Howard noted that new North American communities are still fairly "car-centric," which is quite different from European cities and towns, where planning is around people who walk, public transit users and cyclists.

[An excellent article worth reading through to the end. - MH]

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