Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrian Safety

9th Annual Academic Lecture – Pedestrian Safety

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) held their 9th Annual Academic Lecture on Monday 1 October 2018 in the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin. The lecture focused on Pedestrian Safety and featured insights on the subject from international and national experts.

At the lecture Dr Aoife Kervick, Policy and Research Analyst with the RSA presented preliminary research findings which show that older pedestrians are at greatest risk of fatalities on our roads, with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities recorded for those aged 75 and over. The research, which examined pedestrian fatalities over an 8-year period (2008-2015) on Irish roads also shows that the majority of pedestrian fatalities take place in darkness and, of pedestrians killed in the hours of darkness, 98% were not wearing any high-visibility clothing.
The preliminary findings of the in-depth examination of the pedestrian fatalities that occurred over an 8-year period (2008-2015) on Irish roads will help inform the design of an evidence-based pedestrian safety campaign in 2019.
Key preliminary findings of the research from available information show that:
• Pedestrian risk increases with age. The highest number of pedestrian fatalities was in the 75+ age group.
• The majority of pedestrian fatalities take place in darkness. For pedestrians killed in the hours of darkness, 98% were not wearing any high-visibility clothing. Between 12am and 5am over the weekend is a key risk period.
• 1 in 2 pedestrians killed on roads had consumed alcohol. Just over half of these pedestrians had a blood alcohol concentrate that was very high, more than 4 times the legal driving limit. The majority of pedestrian fatalities overall take place on urban roads, but more pedestrian fatalities where the deceased had consumed alcohol take place in rural areas.

Prof. dr. Tom Brijs, Full Professor in Traffic Safety in Lasselt University Belguim also presented at the lecture. Prof. Dr. Brijs informed that by 2050, one in four people will be aged 65 or over. The aging of the population coincides with an increase in older road users since far more elderly will actively participate in traffic. As a result, the road safety situation of the elderly will also change since the normal ageing process makes people more prone to experience functional declines that can make driving a car more difficult. The fatal collision risk for elderly cyclists and pedestrians is also many times higher than for elderly car drivers.

In the light of these challenges, his presentation explored the road safety risks and main trends for older pedestrians and provided promising countermeasures to reduce the risks that elderly pedestrians run. These countermeasures are situated in the area of infrastructure, education & training and vehicle & ITS technologies. The need for a proactive strategy encompassing all policy levels and the importance of a “design for all” approach was stressed as a prerequisite to meet the safety and mobility needs of elderly road users in the (near) future.

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