One in five fatalities on Ireland’s roads involve pedestrians, according to The Road Safety Authority’s Communications manager, Brian Farrell. Investigations into these incidents have revealed that 15% of these deaths involved individuals aged over 75, according to the Irish Examiner. Just last month, a woman in her 70s sadly lost her life after being struck by a jeep in Co. Galway. As a result, the RSA have pledged to prioritise pedestrian safety on the roads.
The RSA’s findings
Having analysed Ireland’s road fatalities between 2008 and 2016, the RSA have revealed that of the 313 pedestrians killed, 42% were aged 56 or older. However, when broken down by age, fatalities were highest in the 75 and over age group. Upon further analysis, the RSA concluded that in 21% of the fatalities, the pedestrian involved failed to observe the road. Meanwhile, 8% were standing in the road when the incident occurred.
Why seniors are Ireland’s highest road fatality?
Senior pedestrians falling and stumbling in the road are a leading cause as to why so many are involved in fatal road accidents. Additionally, the extra time many of them take to cross the road is a contributing factor. However, Chairperson of the RSA, Liz O’Donnell, states that the nation’s seniors could be doing more to protect themselves on the roads. “You rarely see an elderly person in high visibility clothing,” she says. With 44% of pedestrian fatalities occurring between October and January when the days are typically shorter and darker, wearing a hi-vis jacket could be the difference between life and death.
One method which has been proposed to protect seniors on Ireland’s roads is to change the length of time traffic lights give pedestrians to cross the road. Typically, local councils set traffic light signals at a timing of 1.2 metres per second. However, research conducted by University College London found that men over 65 years of age typically walk at a pace of 0.9 metres per second and women at just 0.8 metres per second. Therefore, should local councils agree to increase the amount of time a red light stays red, the number of pedestrian fatalities on Ireland’s roads will dramatically drop.
According to TheJournal.ie, Liz O’Donnell, has pleaded with drivers to “look after vulnerable road users.” By simply cutting your speed and being extra vigilant, especially in the dark, the risk of a serious incident happening diminishes. Not only will this protect the country’s seniors, but it will ensure drivers and their cars are protected, too. Vehicle insurance is a legal requirement in Ireland, so be sure you’ve got adequate cover before taking to the road. By doing this, you can be sure you’re safeguarded regardless of what happens when you’re in your vehicle.
Following a spate of road fatalities involving ageing pedestrians, the RSA are keen to improve safety on the roads. As a result, traffic lights which stay red for longer are being considered. However, in the meantime, both pedestrians and drivers can take steps to keep Ireland’s roads safe.