Pedestrian Safety

The health benefits of walking and cycling are well known, such as reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, keeping blood pressure in check by lowering levels of bad cholesterol and increasing levels of good cholesterol. However, people are deterred from walking and cycling by speeding traffic and the fear of suffering a road accident.

Local authorities have responded by introducing traffic calming techniques, such as road narrowing, speed cushions, road humps and 20 mph zones to reduce car driversa�� expectations that they can travel quickly on roads where there are likely to be pedestrians. When the traffic on roads is travelling at lower speeds it provides a safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians using the street.

The Department for Transport advises that inappropriate speed contributes to 26% of road traffic collisions that result in fatal injuries.

Road safety studies report that pedestrians are more likely to be severely or fatally injured in an accident if the car is travelling at more than 30 mph. The risk of a fatal accident increases rapidly once a car is travelling above the speed of 30 mph and road safety studies across Europe have shown that pedestrians are at least 3.5 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries if the car is travelling between 30 mph and 40 mph, compared to if the car was travelling at less than 30 mph.

Elderly pedestrians are a particularly vulnerable group of road users and road safety studies have shown that older people are more likely to suffer road accidents in urban areas and especially at road junctions. 73% of road accidents suffered by elderly pedestrians occur within 1 km of their home, indicating that older pedestrians are encountering difficulty using the local roads where they live.

The physical frailty of older people unfortunately means that they recover less well from physical injuries compared with younger accident victims. Safety studies have reported that older people have a slightly increased risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident, but due to their greater vulnerability to the consequences of physical injury, make up a much higher proportion of fatal accident victims. A UK road safety study found that people aged 60 or over accounted for 14.6% of pedestrian road accidents, however made up 46.6% of pedestrians killed in road accidents.

The message is clear that it is important to reduce your cara��s speed for the safety of all people using the roads.

More information: a�?The Relationship between Speed and Risk of Injury: Pedestrian and Car Occupantsa�? Department for Transport, Road Safety Web Publication No. 16, 2010