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Dr. Stina C. Sandels (1908 - 1990)

Dr. Stina C. Sandels started her professional life as a preschool teacher and in the 1950s she founded a Children's Psychological Laboratory. She earned her Ph.D. in 1956 with a thesis on developing psychological behavioural studies in children aged 1.5 to 8.5 years. It was the first scientific study of this kind in Sweden. In 1957 she became an associate professor of education at the University of Stockholm and in 1969 professor at the Stockholm Institute of Education. Her research as a psychologist on children in traffic laid the foundation for the continuing road safety work on children around the world.


Her research in the 1960s revealed why children before the age of 12 lack the maturity to have safe behaviour and that they are developmentally very bad at traffic safety. Sandels conducted a large number of detailed studies observing children on streets and in traffic and documented their behaviour and involvement in road traffic crashes.


She found that even well trained children are much less knowledgeable about traffic movement than adults think. Her studies indicated that young children have great difficulty in playing the role of pedestrians partly because 6 year olds are not able to see moving vehicles out of the corner of their eyes as quickly as adults can. She also found great differences between the abilities of adults and children to localise sounds, as adults are able to locate the direction a sound is coming from, but children had fewer correct directional indications and a greater spread of incorrect alternatives.


Stina Sandels concluded that ‘even the best road safety education cannot adapt a child to modern traffic, so that traffic has got to be adapted to the child’ and that ‘It is shown that it is impossible to radically lower the amount of children's accidents by teaching them safety measures’.

Selected publications

  1. Sandels, S. (1963). Is there need of research, education and consultation in developmental psychology? Social-Medicinsk tidskrift, 40, 160-162

  2. Sandels, S. (1970). Young children in traffic. The British journal of educational psychology, 40(2), 111-116

  3. Sandels, S. (1971). The Skandia Report: A report on children in traffic. Stockholm: Skandia Insurance Company Limited, Forlagstjahst. (Full text)

  4. Sandels, S. (1974). The Skandia Report II: Why are children injured in traffic? Can we prevent child accidents in traffic? Stockholm: Skandia Insurance Company Limited, Forlagstjahst. (Abstract)

  5. Sandels, S. (1975). Children in traffic. Surrey: Elek Books Ltd.(Link)

  6. Sandels, S. (1995). Young children in traffic. 1970. Injury Prevention, 1(2), 112-115 (Full text)

    More About Stina Sandels (Link) 

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