Travel patterns and safety of school children in the eThekwini Municipality
The annual incidence of pedestrian casualties on South African roads is approximately 34 000. This includes 4 000 deaths, 10 000 serious injuries and 20 000 minor injuries, costing the country an estimated R2,55 billion. A large number of injuries involve children and this is distressing but preventing this is a challenge. Statistics indicate that pedestrians are most at risk. School children have been identified as forming a considerable percentage of pedestrians. Consequently it is important to understand factors that influence children's travel patterns as an initial step toward reducing the accident rate. This study examines children's travel patterns at primary and secondary schools in the eThekwini area. In the absence of statistics regarding journeys to transport children to school, a questionnaire survey was designed to determine demographics, mode of travel to school, travel cost and duration, factors influencing choices of alternate modes of travel and problems experienced during school travel in terms of road safety. In addition, an on-site investigation was undertaken to assess the relevant engineering aspects including geometric design, traffic calming, signage and other traffic management aspects. This study focuses on scholar transport and discusses the findings of pilot and focal surveys. On analyzing the data, various problems were identified, namely: the road environment favours drivers over pedestrians, an absence of a formal travel plan, poor driver behaviour and an absence of dedicated school buses. A range of possible solutions is recommended. The recommendations focus on the Engineering, Enforcement and Evaluation aspects.
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