Spike in pedestrian deaths: Action needed

22 Nov 2022

The state’s peak walking promotion organisation is calling upon political parties to urgently address road safety for walkers as Victoria continues an alarming 2022 trajectory in pedestrian deaths.

“We have already surpassed the average year-total of walkers killed and it’s only November,” said Victoria Walks’ executive officer Ben Rossiter this week.

Forty-two people have lost their lives while walking in Victoria so far in 2022, a huge jump from the 5-year average figure of 30 for this time of year.(i) The average number of walkers killed in Victoria each calendar year over the past five years is 35.(ii)

The latest crash to claim a life occurred on Friday November 18th. A person driving a car struck a 72-year-old man on Taylors Road in Keilor Downs at 6.35pm. The man was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries and died on Sunday.

Dr Rossiter said the state appeared on track to equal its shocking 2019 spike when 49 walkers were killed.

“Victorians enjoyed two years of relative walking safety over 2020 and 2021 when the state’s pandemic lockdowns saw Victorians walking more than usual and many of the state’s 5.2 million motor vehicles were left in garages,” Dr Rossiter said.

“But 2022 has seen a shocking rebound in lives lost, with people walking making up nearly one-fifth of total road fatalities in Victoria this year and a quarter of fatalities in Melbourne.”

A key plank of Victoria’s current road safety strategy is to ‘halve road deaths by 2030 by creating a safer and more protective environment for vulnerable road users’, but Dr Rossiter said governments were failing to protect people who walk.

“After driving, walking is the most popular form of transport and it should be accessible, appealing and safe for everyone,” Dr Rossiter said. “If we really want to reduce deaths on Victoria’s roads we need to focus on making streets safer for walking, and for walkers of all ages.”

“We know that most pedestrian fatalities occur on main roads in metropolitan areas, and one in four walkers killed are aged over 80.”

Victoria Walks is appealing to the major political parties to meets its call for a $600m Safer Streets fund in the next term of government.(iii)

Dr Rossiter said the fund would radically increase roll out of safer infrastructure such as more crossings over major roads, upgraded signals and footpaths, better street lighting and traffic calming on streets close to schools, shops and public transport.

"We should not wait until people are killed to make our streets safer for walking."

“Victoria Police record drivers as offending in 46% of crashes involving people who are walking, and the cause of a further 18% of crashes is unknown,” said Mr Rossiter.(iv)

“Government action and investment must focus on creating road environments that help drivers avoid collisions with more vulnerable road users,” he said.

“An example is right-turning drivers, who account for 16% of crashes with walkers in Victoria.”

“Signals that allow walkers more time to cross busy intersections and control when drivers are allowed to turn would make people safer, particularly older adults and people with mobility challenges who often depend on walking to get around.”

Dr Rossiter said current funding levels for walking safety fell well short of what is needed to make walking safer and more accessible in Victoria.

A 2021 survey of 2300 Victorians showed a majority of people want greater government investment in walking as part of transport budgets. The Victorian Walking Survey showed three quarters of people believe the government should provide infrastructure to improve walking to shops and schools in their local area.(v)

"Extra funding to make streets safer and convenient for walking will give more Victorians choice in how they move around their communities and help to reduce the number of people jumping back into cars," Dr Rossiter said.


i www.tac.vic.gov.au/road-safety/statistics/lives-lost-year-to-date
ii www.tac.vic.gov.au/road-safety/statistics/summaries/pedestrian-statistics
iii Investing in Walking – a step forward for Victoria’s environment, economy and health (2022)
iv Understanding Pedestrian Crashes in Victoria (2020) www.victoriawalks.org.au/pedestrian-crashes/
v The Victoria Walking Survey (2021) www.victoriawalks.org.au/survey/

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