Kids in poorer areas of Ontario face greater risk of getting hit by cars: study

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injured child bicycle

A new study suggests children in poorer areas of Ontario face a greater risk of getting hit by vehicles than those in wealthier areas.

The study — conducted by researchers at Sick Kids hospital, York University and ICES, formerly known as the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences — examined data on emergency department visits related to kids hit by cars from 2008 to 2015.

Overall, it found the number of ER visits for that type of incident decreased by 18 per cent over those seven years.

But while kids in high-income areas saw the number of visits drop by 22 per cent, those in low-income neighbourhoods saw an increase of 14 per cent.

The study’s authors say that means children in the highest-income areas had a rate of ER visits due to getting hit by vehicles that was 48 per cent lower than those in the lowest-income areas.

They say the findings highlight potential strategies to reduce vehicle-pedestrian collision rates in poorer areas by slowing traffic through speed bumps, road narrowing or placing fixed objects in the middle of streets.

“Simply put, poorer children are at an increased risk of getting hit by cars. Child pedestrian injury is a public health and health equity issue,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Linda Rothman, said in a statement.

“Although progress has been made in reducing preventable pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions, more work remains to be done. Our streets should be safe for all children to walk to school, to the playground or to the park,” said Rothman, a senior research associate in child health evaluative sciences at Sick Kids.

The study also found teens and preteens were at the highest risk of getting hit in that time period, accounting for 51 and 26 per cent of ER visits respectively.

The majority — 73 per cent — of incidents occurred in cities, compared with 20 per cent in the suburbs.

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