2012 - Research

Impact of a Pilot Walking School Bus Intervention on Children's Pedestrian Safety Behaviors: A Pilot Study

Walking school buses (WSB) increase children’s physical activity, but their impact on pedestrian safety behaviors (PSB) is unknown. To fill this knowledge gap, the authors tested the feasibility of a protocol evaluating changes to PSB during a WSB program.

  • Outcomes were school-level street crossing PSB prior to (Time 1) and during weeks 4–5 (Time 2) of the WSB. The protocol collected 1252 observations at Time 1 and 2548 at Time 2.
  • This pilot study demonstrated the feasibility of collecting school-level pedestrian safety behavior outcomes and changes to those outcomes during a WSB program study. Mixed model analyses indicated that intervention schoolchildren had 5-fold higher odds of crossing at the corner/crosswalk but 5-fold lower odds of stopping at the curb.
  • The WSB was associated with more children crossing at an intersection, but fewer children fully stopping at the curb. These mixed results suggest modification to the WSB program may be necessary in order to improve children's pedestrian safety behaviors on the walk to and from school.
  • Further WSB studies, preferably fully powered experimental trials that longitudinally follow participants' pedestrian safety behaviors in the long term, should be conducted in a variety of settings among diverse populations to formally evaluate pedestrian safety and physical activity outcomes. Moreover, studies that examine the influence of the built environment, use objective measures of neighborhood safety, and consider vehicular traffic are also necessary to evaluate their influences on the WSB and children's pedestrian safety.
  • The protocol appears feasible for documenting changes to school-level PSB.

Mendoza, J. A., K. Watson, et al. (2012). "Impact of a pilot walking school bus intervention on children's pedestrian safety behaviors: A pilot study." Health & Place 18(1): 24-30.