Report highlights differences between adult and child pedestrian casualties

12.00 | 8 May 2013 | | 3 comments

Separate safety measures and interventions are required for adult and child pedestrians, according to a new report published last week (8 May) by PACTS (the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety).

The report, ‘Stepping Out’, has been launched to coincide with the Second UN Global Road Safety Week (6-12 May) which is focusing on pedestrian safety. It has been compiled on behalf of PACTS by Road Safety Analysis (RSA) and suggests a link between adult pedestrian casualties and alcohol consumption, and child casualties and deprivation.

While the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured in the UK consistently fell in the 30-year period1980-2010, in 2011 there was a 5% increase, including a 12% increase in pedestrian deaths.

68% of all pedestrian casualties are adults and the report highlights significantly different collision characteristics between adults and children. Children are more likely to be injured in spring and summer (except August) while there are higher casualties among adults between October and January. The highest risk period for adults is weekend evenings, after consuming alcohol. The highest risk age is 12 years, and 40% of child pedestrian casualties live in the UK’s most deprived areas.

Children are more likely to be injured on weekdays at morning and afternoon school times. Peaks around commuter times for adult casualties are less pronounced but there are significant numbers in late evening and night time.

David Davies, PACTS executive director, says: “There seems to have been little progress in pedestrian casualty reduction over the past three to four years. The final casualty data for 2012 (due in late June 2013) will be an important indicator.

“We need to design roads and streets around people, acknowledging the realities of human behaviour. All road users have responsibilities but temporary lapses of attention should not be punished by death or serious injury. This report provides evidence rather than recommendations that should be considered carefully by all road safety stakeholders.”

Richard Owen, director of RSA, said: “The UK has an excellent track record of delivering targeted pedestrian training to primary aged children. However, the evidence is compelling that engaging with higher risk groups is a clear priority if we are going to reduce casualty numbers.

“All too often pedestrians are putting themselves in harm’s way through inattention and poor choices. This is also something that motorists need to be mindful of and not assume that pedestrians will make the safest choices when crossing the road.”

Simon Best, chief executive of IAM (one of the sponsors of the report), says: “Drivers and pedestrians make the same mistake – they don’t look. Better designed car fronts and new road layouts will help reduce the severity of crashes but it is clear that drivers need to be made more aware of the need to look out for pedestrians if we are to make immediate progress in reducing these worrying numbers.”

Click here to download the report.


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    Dave has suggested an “incongruity between road safety and promotion of sustainable transport”.

    Whilst recognising the cause and effect, I disagree that we should “accept” increased casualties or accept that we can do little about it.

    When changing any system the “designer” has to assess risk and act accordingly. This is where public bodies often fall down – they drive part of an agenda (e.g increased walking/cycling) and don’t consider the whole system well enough. This does not have to be the case. TfL provides an excellent case study on how to join up policy – linking Boris bikes to various road safety initiatives (hard and soft). You can debate the success (in safty terms)but the had a damned good go at co-ordinating using a systems thinking approach.

    pete, liverpool
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    The more pedestrians and cyclists there are, the more casualties among these groups there will be. We’re already seeing this with cyclists, this is part of the incongruity between road safety and promotion of sustainable transport. We either need to switch to looking more at rates and ignore basic numbers or accept that we’re going to see an increase in casualty numbers and decide what level is acceptable.

    Dave, Leeds
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    I wonder if the increase in pedestrian casualites is related to the economic conditions – more people walking for short trips? With deprevation, there is some indication that children from those socio-economic groups have higher casualties in the 6 to 9 time slot – indicating that they ‘play out’ rather than stay in. (MAST South Wales data)

    Mark – Caerphilly
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