Walking getting safer, on the east coast at least

6 Aug 2015

A recent report from the Bureau of Infrastructure and Regional Development sheds a new light on crashes affecting pedestrians in Australia.

Pedestrians and Road Safety records that pedestrians make up 13% of total road fatalities.  Encouragingly, both pedestrian and road fatalities generally are declining.

Between 1995 and around 2002 there was a slight reduction in pedestrian fatalities as a percentage of all road deaths, but this has not continued in the last decade. The report suggests the decline may be due to progress in road safety "but it should also be seen as a result of a decrease in pedestrian mobility; especially among children."

The picture varies significantly between states. NSW and Queensland have improved dramatically over the last decade, but Victoria has not improved to the same extent, while South Australia and WA have not improved at all.

But fatalities are only part of the picture.  Around 2,700 pedestrians are hospitalised each year and there has been no improvement in the last decade.

The report confirms that older people are most at risk. In the last 10 years, pedestrians aged 75 and older were between 1.7 and 3.4 times more likely than the next closest age group to be fatally injured.

Strangely, but consistent with worldwide trends, male pedestrians are more than twice as likely as females to be killed in a road crash, except for those aged 65 and older.  However there is not the same gender bias for pedestrian hospitalisations.

While cars and light commercial vehicles dominate in pedestrian deaths, 12.5% are caused by trucks, 3.2% buses, 1.2% motorbikes and 0.4% pedal cycles.

Finally, be wary of Thursdays - the day of the week with the highest number of fatal pedestrian crashes.  Try walking on a Tuesday, inexplicably the safest day.