Teen pedestrian safety survey

With the support of FedEx, Parachute conducted a poll of Canadian teenagers in 2014 to better understand the habits and experiences associated with distracted walking and pedestrian safety for teens. We polled 510 Canadian teenagers aged 13 to 18, across a balanced sample of gender and regions in Canada, to capture these results which give us a great picture of what is going on here in Canada.

The study found that 51% of Canadian teens report being hit or almost hit by a car, bike or motorcycle. Of those 51%, 6% were actually hit, and 46% reported they were almost hit. Interestingly, teenagers from Quebec were significantly less likely to have reported being ‘almost hit’ (33%) compared to teens in Western Canada (49%) and Ontario (48%).

We asked teens that reported being hit or almost hit (51%) to consider the circumstances of the incident or near miss. Teens reported the following reasons:

•    The driver was going too fast (30%)
•    Not looking before stepping onto the road (20%)
•    The driver wasn’t paying attention (72%)
•    Being distracted by phone, music or other communication device (8%)

A notable finding was that teenagers from Quebec were significantly less likely to report that the ‘driver wasn’t paying attention’ (53%) compared to teens from Western Canada (78%) and Ontario (76%).

One aim of the study was to examine the extent to which teens engaged in various types of risky behaviour while walking along the street. The most commonly cited behaviour was listening to music (55%) with texting (41%) and talking on the phone (33%) being reported second and third most often. Other behaviours included in the survey were using smartphone features (20%) and reading information on a mobile phone (15%).  Lastly, watching videos on a phone, playing games on a phone and looking at websites on a phone were each reported by 6% of Canadian teens. This study showed that females were significantly more likely than males to report listening to music (60% compared to 50%), texting (46% compared to 36%) and talking on the phone (39% compared to 26%) while walking.

When asked specifically about behaviours when crossing the street, teens reported listening to music (42%), talking on the phone (21%) and texting (15%). Of the teens surveyed, 7% reported using other smartphone features while crossing the street, such as reading something on their phone, playing games and watching videos. 

The study also asked teens about their transportation to and from school. Results showed that 35% of teens walk to school, with 27% taking the school bus, 24% riding to school in a car, and 22% taking public transportation. Other responses included ‘driving myself’ (10%), ‘other’ (3%), and ‘do not attend school’ (2%). Teens in Western Canada were significant less likely to ride a school bus (16%) compared to teens in Ontario (27%) and Quebec (39%).

Teens were asked to consider their behaviour as pedestrians. Based on pedestrian injury data, walking in the dark and disobeying pedestrian signals are important risk factors for injury. In this study, 57% of teens reported walking in the dark at least sometimes, with older teens aged 16 - 18 (69%) being significantly more likely to do so compared to younger teens aged 13 - 15 (45%). Further, 57% of teens reported running across the street. Lastly, 28% of teens reported crossing the street on a red light, 58% of teens reported crossing in the middle of the block, and 63% cross busy intersections at the time of day when there’s lots of traffic.