The aim of the study was to determine why children and adolescents between 10 and 14 years are disproportionally often involved in bicycle accidents. Based on the results an intervention that enables children of this age group to cycle safely should be designed. Knowledge from neuroscience, developmental psychology and school pedagogics should be taken into consideration by designing the intervention programme. One aim was to increase the ability of self-monitoring of children, which is important in many areas of life.
A survey among children and adolescents, parents and headmasters in different parts of Germany identified the factors responsible for the increased risk of this age group to be involved in an accident. Based on the results of the surveys, the prevention programme "YOLO – Know your limits" has been conceptualised to reduce the risk for accident in this age group. It aims at strengthening adolescents’ executive functions and risk competence, in order to promote a more realistic evaluation of their abilities as well as the dangers of their environment (including traffic). Furthermore, in this programme they learn how to be more resistant against influence by the peer group. The impact of the intervention was evaluated with a risk group using a randomized controlled trial.
For the first time, the current research project investigated the role of executive functions in relation to cycling and revealed various associations with the frequency and severity of cycling accidents, cycling behaviour and further individual factors. Most striking, adolescents who experienced a higher number of cycling accidents after age 9, reported higher willingness to take risks, more emotional problems, and increased deficits in executive functions, than adolescents without such accidents. Susceptibility to peer influence further heightened the probability to experience more cycling accidents.
The results of the programme evaluation indicated a positive effect on adolescents’ executive functions as well as their risk competence. It helped simultaneously to decrease the number of accidents, experienced by foot on the way to school, during leisure and school sport as well as during break times at school.
In conclusion, the results of the research project proved that the promotion of executive functions and risk competence should be acknowledged in prevention programmes that aim at fostering the safety of young cyclists. Future programmes with the purpose of decreasing adolescents’ risk for accidents should therefore consider developmental and neuropsychological aspects in the selection of content and methods.
-cross sectoral-Type of hazard:
accident prevention, traffic accidents, special groups of personsDescription, key words:
cycling, young cyclists, puberty