Annals of African Medicine, Vol. 11, No. 1, January-March, 2012, pp. 32-35
An observational study of road safety around selected primary schools in Ibadan municipality, Oyo State, Southwestern Nigeria
Adesola O Sangowawa1, Akindele O Adebiyi2, Babalola Faseru3, Olusola J Popoola4
1 Institute of Child Health, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan/University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria
Code Number: am12007
Background/ Objective: Child pedestrians have been identified as vulnerable road users. Although walking as a means of transport has health and other benefits, it exposes children to the risk of road traffic injuries. This study was conducted to assess the availability of road safety features around government-owned primary schools in Ibadan municipality.
Keywords: Child pedestrian, primary schools, road safety
According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, more than 260,000 children die and up to 10 million are injured in road crashes each year. The overwhelming majority of deaths - about 93%, occur in low and middle income countries.  Children are mainly involved in road traffic injuries as passengers or pedestrians.  Factors increasing susceptibility of children to involvement in road crashes include the following: defective road environment including excessive traffic volumes, inefficient, and unsafe public transport systems, inappropriate speed of vehicles, poor land use and networking, lack of separation of road users, and mixed land use where houses, schools, and commercial outlets are erected. ,,,, Children are also vulnerable to pedestrian injury because their small size makes it difficult for them to view surrounding traffic and also makes it difficult for drivers to see them; they are active, energetic, and often impulsive. In addition, they do not have the physical and cognitive skills required to make safe judgments and choices about traffic on their own until they are about 10 years. , In addition, children are also involved because in some countries, they live, work, and play on the streets.  Child pedestrian injury rates have been found to be highest in Africa and Asia and this has been attributed to the fact that many of them walk to school. ,
Walking is considered part of an active lifestyle and has been associated with health benefits.  A disadvantage of walking to school however is the fact that it exposes children to the risk of pedestrian injury while walking. A hospital based study in Tanzania found that over 73% of children injured by road traffic were walking to and from school.  The proportion of children walking has thus reduced in some countries such as the United States with one-third of parents reporting traffic-related danger as a barrier to walking to school.  Findings from a hospital-based study on the pattern and socioeconomic implications of road crashes in Southwestern Nigeria by Ipingbemi revealed that 5.5% of road traffic injury (RTI) victims admitted into hospital were aged 0-15 years. 
Interventions to protect child pedestrians have been implemented in many countries. , Some of these have focused on modification of children′s behavior while they are on the road, while others have focused on modification of the traffic environment.  Generally, educational efforts targeted at improving children′s road safety knowledge and practices have been found to result in limited effects on the long-term behavior of children. , As a result, a great deal of attention has shifted to environment modification such as utilizing speed limit signs or stop signs and other traffic calming strategies, e.g., the erection of speed humps, street closures, creating one-way streets near schools, median barriers, miniroundabouts, and designated pedestrian crossings. 
This study was conducted to describe and assess the availability of road safety features around government-owned primary schools in Ibadan municipality. Findings would inform development and enforcement of road safety policies to protect the lives of pupils in the school vicinity.
Materials and Methods
An observational study was conducted. Ibadan municipality consists of five (5) local government areas (LGAs). The municipality has a population of about 704,431 children aged 15 years and below. One of the five LGA in the municipality - Ibadan North was selected using simple random sampling technique. A list of the government-owned primary schools in Ibadan North LGA was obtained from the State Primary Education Board. Within the municipality, two or more schools are sometimes located within the same compound. Using a table of random numbers, 46 of the 74 primary schools in the study area were selected. Some (11) of the selected schools were sited within the same premises and shared a common entrance; thus a total of 35 school premises were eventually observed. Trained research assistants observed the environment around the schools for road safety features and documented findings on a semistructured observational checklist.
Observations made included:
Permission to conduct the study was obtained from the Office of the Local Government Medical Officer of Health. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 16.
Generally, road safety features around the vicinity of the observed schools were insufficient [Table - 1]. The school entrances of five (14%) of the schools were located on major tarmac roads, while for the remaining 30 (86%), the entrances opened onto side-roads. Of the five schools sited on major roads, two were on dual carriageway roads and two were on hilly terrains. Eight (23%) of all the observed school road environments had a road sign which indicated that a school was nearby, one had a road sign indicating that children were crossing, and none had any speed limit sign.
Seven (20%) schools had road bumps close to the school; 15 (43%) had a warden who assisted children to cross. The warden was a volunteer staff in 12 (80%) schools, an older student in 2 (13%) schools, and a police traffic warden in 1 (7%) school. None of the school road environments observed had a zebra crossing. Five (14%) school environments had pedestrian sidewalks and four (11%) had a number of overgrown trees close to the gate which affected visibility. Twenty (57%) schools had designated parking spaces for vehicles coming to the school though it was observed that the majority of the children walked to school and that the parking spaces were mainly utilized by the school staff.
The study revealed that about half of the observed schools were largely unsafe as regards road safety of the pupils. Studies conducted in other developing countries have revealed inadequate pedestrian road safety features around schools. , Developed countries have taken the lead in road safety issues and are thus the target of most child-road injury policies and control programmes. This could be because developing countries are still faced with problems resulting from communicable diseases. Unfortunately, noncommunicable diseases are becoming a source of concern in developing countries and if left uncurbed, have the potential of attaining epidemic proportions.
On the whole, schools in Ibadan, like those in other developing countries, had insufficient road safety features for instance, 15% of schools in Ibadan compared with 36% of schools in Jordan and 90% of schools in Uganda were located on a main road. , About 23% of schools in Ibadan had road signs depicting that a school was nearby compared with 47% of Jordan schools and 5% of Ugandan schools. In addition, 20% of observed schools in Ibadan had speed bumps compared with about 70% in Jordan and none in Uganda. , Forty-three percent of schools in our study had a warden (who was either a police traffic warden, a member of staff of the school or an older pupil) who assisted pupils to cross the road compared with 50% of Ugandan schools that reportedly had policemen who assisted children to cross.
The study revealed that road safety conditions around primary schools in the municipality were grossly inadequate and unduly exposed the pupils to the risk of road crashes and subsequent injuries. Not only are children physically and mentally immature to handle road traffic situations, they are unable to advocate for child-friendly road designs and have to rely on adults to do this for them.
Equipment/features such as road bumps, zebra crossings, and road signs required to ensure road safety around schools are basic and relatively inexpensive to construct and maintain especially when compared to the costs of road traffic injuries to pupils and nation at large. In view of the study findings, urgent action needs to be taken by the local government authorities to ensure that basic road safety features are put in place and maintained around schools in the municipality to ensure safety of pupils on their way to or from school.
Copyright 2012 - Annals of African Medicine
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