Do school crossing guards make crossing roads safer? A quasi-experimental study of pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions in Toronto, Canada.
Rothman L., Perry D., Buliung R., Macarthur C., To T., Macpherson A., Larsen K., Howard A.
BACKGROUND: The presence of school crossing guards has been associated with more walking and more pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions (PMVCs) in area-level cross-sectional analyses. The objectives of the study were to (1) Determine the effect on PMVC rates of newly implemented crossing guards in Toronto, Canada (2) Determine where collisions were located in relation to crossing guards throughout the city, and whether they occurred during school travel times. METHODS: School crossing guards with 50 m buffers were mapped along with police-reported child PMVCs from 2000-2011. (1) A quasi-experimental study identified all age collision counts near newly implemented guards before and after implementation, modeled using repeated measures Poisson regression adjusted for season and built environment variables. (2) A retrospective cohort study of all child PMVCS throughout the city to determine the proportions of child PMVCs which occurred during school travel times and at guard locations. RESULTS: There were 27,827 PMVCs, with 260 PMVCs at the locations of 58 newly implemented guards. Repeated measures adjusted Poisson regression found PMVCs rates remained unchanged at guard locations after implementation (IRR 1.02, 95 % CI 0.74, 1.39). There were 568 guards citywide with 1850 child PMVCs that occurred at guard locations. The majority of child PMVCs occurred outside school travel times (n = 1155, 62 %) and of those that occurred during school travel times, only 95 (13.7 %) were at a guard location. CONCLUSIONS: School crossing guards are a simple roadway modification to increase walking to school without apparent detrimental safety effects. Other more permanent interventions are necessary to address the frequency of child PMVCs occurring away from the location of crossing guards, and outside of school travel times.