Spotlight on seniors in traffic accidents

Numbers are down, but experts and MPs say more can be done to help elderly pedestrians

The number of elderly pedestrians injured increased slightly by 0.8 per cent to 119, from 118 in the same period last year.
The number of elderly pedestrians injured increased slightly by 0.8 per cent to 119, from 118 in the same period last year.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Traffic accidents involving elderly pedestrians remain a key concern, despite falling overall accident numbers, going by the latest figures released by police yesterday.

Road safety experts and MPs said more still needs to be done to protect this vulnerable group of pedestrians, including finding innovative ways to educate seniors and to remind other road users to be more careful.

The mid-year traffic statistics from the police showed that the total number of accidents involving elderly pedestrians decreased 4.4 per cent to 130, from 136 in the same period last year.

But the number of fatal accidents involving them in the first half of 2018 remained the same as a year ago, at 11 each.

The number of elderly pedestrians injured increased slightly by 0.8 per cent to 119, from 118 in the same period last year.

From January to June this year, close to 40 per cent of all accidents involving elderly pedestrians were due to jaywalking.

The steady figures come even as overall accident numbers are falling. There were 3,905 traffic accidents which resulted in deaths or injuries in the first half of 2018, a 0.1 per cent drop from 3,908 a year ago. But the number of fatal accidents overall fell 5.1 per cent to 56, from 59 in the first half of 2017. This continues a downward trend since 2012.

The number of accidents in which people got hurt remained the same in the first half of this year and last year, at 3,849 each.

MPs and road safety experts said more can be done to reach out to and help senior citizens.

Mr Ang Hin Kee, deputy chairman of the Transport Government Parliamentary Committee, said that engaging the seniors in ways that they are interested in is important. "We reached out to young children to remind them to tell their grandparents about the need to be safe on the road. We engage getai singers and emcees to do the same," he added.

Another committee member Ang Wei Neng said that road safety education is a continuous process. Among his suggestions was putting up prominent messages in places where the elderly congregate, such as coffee shops and senior activity centres. "We need to remind the seniors until it becomes a habit."

MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling said that seniors may be more vulnerable to traffic accidents as they age physically. "It is not that they are not aware. Sometimes they jaywalk because the environment is not elderly-friendly enough and it is too tiring for them to walk the extra distance.

"Some of them are also hard of hearing and less alert. So motorists have to be extra careful."

Another area of concern highlighted by the police is motorcycle traffic accidents, with fatal cases rising 12.5 per cent to 27 from January to June, compared with 24 a year ago.

To remind bikers to protect themselves and minimise injuries, the police launched a campaign at the Singapore Expo yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 19, 2018, with the headline 'Spotlight on seniors in traffic accidents'. Subscribe