Making streets safer for walkers

A new report has recommended ways to help keep safe older Victorian pedestrians after research showed they made up a large proportion of fatalities on the state’s roads.

Walking health promotion charity Victoria Walks analysed more than 1,000 crashes between 2008 and 2013 and found that people aged 65 and over represented 14.6 per cent of the population but accounted for 39 per cent of pedestrian fatalities.

The report Safer Road Design for Older Pedestrians said that in the most common crash scenario (18 per cent), older people were hit by a motorist turning right as they exited an intersection. This was a situation where the driver was legally required to give way.

The report suggested that at intersections with no traffic lights, motorists should have given way in at least 42 per cent of crashes involving older pedestrians.  Where there were traffic lights, motorists were required to give way in at least 72 per cent of crashes. 

“Older pedestrians are not risk takers” said Ben Rossiter, Executive Officer of Victoria Walks.

“It would appear that they are hit by drivers who don’t know road rules or ignore them, don’t see seniors or simply expect them to get out of the way.” 

In other findings, vehicles colliding with pedestrians on footpaths, footpath driveways or at entrances to car parks, comprised at least 16 per cent of all older pedestrian crashes, and 23 per cent for those 85 and older.

“It is lamentable that so many of our most vulnerable pedestrians are hit on footpaths, precisely where they should be the most safe”, Rossiter said. “As a community we should be ashamed.”

Victoria Walks is calling for more policing of give way laws, driver focused pedestrian road safety campaigns and better road design that protects seniors when they are walking.

“Instead of telling older people to ‘take care’ when they are walking, we need to design streets that take care of them”, Rossiter said.

Click here to read the report. 

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