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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT AND PREVENTION OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Impact of a pilot walking school bus intervention on children's pedestrian safety behaviors: a pilot study

Authors
item Mendoza, Jason -
item Watson, Kathy -
item Chen, Tzu-An -
item Baranowski, Tom -
item Nicklas, Theresa -
item Uscanga, Doris -
item Hanfling, Marcus -

Submitted to: Acarology International Congress Proceedings
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2011
Publication Date: January 10, 2012
Citation: Mendoza, J.A., Watson, K., Chen, T., Baranowski, T., Nicklas, T.A., Uscanga, D., Hanfling, M.J. 2012. Impact of a pilot walking school bus intervention on children's pedestrian safety behaviors: a pilot study. Acarology International Congress Proceedings. 18:24-30.

Interpretive Summary: Encouraging physical activity among youth is important for addressing the rates of childhood obesity. We tested a way to evaluate children’s safety as part of a pilot Walking School Bus program for fourth graders to promote physical activity. Children at the schools participating in the program were five times more likely to cross the street in a safe location—at the corner or crosswalk— than they were before their schools started the program. Children at participating schools also were five times less likely to fully stop at the curb before crossing. However, children who cross the street with an adult or crossing guard may have less need to fully stop at the curb. Traffic lanes and perceived neighborhood safety had weak influences on children’s pedestrian behaviors. Our results suggest that traffic lanes and perceived neighborhood safety may have less of an effect on children’s pedestrian behavior than the influence of peers, adults or crossing guards.

Technical Abstract: Walking school buses (WSB) increased children's physical activity, but impact on pedestrian safety behaviors (PSB) is unknown. We 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. Mixed model analyses yielded: intervention schoolchildren had 5-fold higher odds (p<0.01) of crossing at the corner/crosswalk but 5-fold lower odds (p<0.01) of stopping at the curb. The protocol appears feasible for documenting changes to school-level PSB.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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