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Speed reduction and longer wait time proposed for older pedestrians

By Anna Kantilaftas, 08 Sep 2016 Car News

Older people crossing the road

A new road safety proposal could see motorists coping further reductions in vehicle speeds and longer red-light stops in a bid to increase the safety of the older generation.

With the aging population expected to triple by 2051, pedestrian safety group Victoria Walks, has proposed changes to Victoria’s traffic conditions in a bid to reduce the number of elderly dying on our roads.

Referred to as “traffic calming” part of the Towards Zero 2016/2020 Victoria’s Road Safety Strategy Action Plan suggests reducing vehicle speeds on local streets with heavy foot traffic to just 30km/h.

According to the report, “at speeds between 58 and 72km/h an older person is almost five times more likely to die than a person between 25 and 44 years of age.”

Additional to the reduced speed limits, it advises longer red-light times to give pedestrians longer crossing times. The time of the little green man depends on the width of the road. For every meter of road, one second of crossing time should be allowed. It also says “ideally, the same time should be provided for pedestrians to cross during both the ‘green man’ and “flashing red” period.” This could force motorists to sit at traffic lights for up to seven seconds longer.

And as if that’s not enough, motorists could have to stop more frequently through the recommendation to “reduce intersection signal cycle times to provide more frequent crossing opportunities.”

Other recommendations listed in the document by Victoria Walks are:

  • Separation from traffic
  • Reduction in the complexity of crossing the road
  • Reduction in crossing distance
  • Increase visibility to pedestrians
  • Reinforce the requirement for vehicles to give way
  • And quality surfaces and detailed design

33 per cent of all pedestrian fatalities occur in people aged over 70 years, according to the report, and the fatality rate for those over 85 is five times more than those 64 years. It also outlines that “Victorian pedestrians aged 65 years or older have experienced an average of 17 fatalities, 147 serious injuries and 114 other injuries per year” which costs the state almost $110 million per annum.