A new report is calling for learner drivers to be trained to look more carefully for vulnerable pedestrians, and to recognise that conditions on the road change constantly.
The Northern Ireland Pedestrian Fatality Report 2014 is an in-depth study of 55 pedestrian fatalities between 2008 and 2012. It suggests that road traffic collision research from numerous countries “highlights that driver visibility during darkness, elderly and intoxicated pedestrians have a common theme which is cognitive impairment”.
The author, Dr Elaine Hardy – who wrote a similar report in 2012 looking at motorcycle fatalities – was given access to the case files of the Forensic Science Northern Ireland Road Traffic Investigation Team and the Coroner’s Service, Northern Ireland.
In the report Dr Hardy advocates the use of technology such as cameras and sensors to help lorry drivers overcome the problem of blind spots. She also encourages the haulage industry to continue to lobby the UK and EU Governments to “change the physical structure of lorries (in order) to lower and extend the front of the cab, allowing drivers to have a wider scope of vision”.
The report found that 35 (64%) collisions occurred in darkness, and in 30 (55%) cases the pedestrians were wearing dark clothing. In 91% of the incidents, the vehicle was being driven within the speed limit.
Adults made up 56.4% of fatalities, while the elderly (over 70yrs) comprised 31% and children (16yrs & under) 12.7%. 31% were found to have alcohol in their blood at the time of the collision, and all of these cases occurred during the hours of darkness. The average Blood Alcohol Content was 232 mg per 100 ml.
The report was funded by the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund.