Each year 270000 pedestrians die of road traffic and millions are injured (WHO, 2011). Despite
children being largely over-represented in casualties, little is known about the perceptual processes
used by children for judgments typically made as a pedestrian. In the present study, we addressed
two crucial questions: 1- In road-crossing situations, are children more influenced than adults by
specific social and visual saliency features, 2- how does this influence change with age?We recorded
the eye-movements of more than 100 children from 5 to 14 years-old and 30 adults while they were
watching road-traffic videos on screen and performing a road-crossing decision task. Linear-mixed
models showed a strong age effect on crossing decisions and clustering techniques isolated 5–9
years-old children as more likely to cross the road in short gaps. Young children also showed
difficulties in inhibiting reflexive orientation responses towards traffic irrelevant distractors.
Statistical mapping of eye-movements identified the social and visual saliency features leading to
the strongest orientation responses. Our data offer a novel fine-grained description of the visuospatial
processes of children’s engaged in road-traffic situations. These findings have a profound
impact on the understanding of the visual system and road safety issues.