Project on road safety and elderly people
SaMERU is an EU co-funded project which examined all aspects of road safety facing elderly road users. The project undertook a range of activities, including a review of existing literature and statistics, a survey of older people in the four local authority partners (Southend, Lancashire, Burgos and Modena) , a review of accident trends and public space ergonomics in these same cities/towns and implementation of an array of measures to promote sustainable modes and road safety.
The measures implemented included driver training and bike training sessions for elderly people. The positive outcomes of these activities have prompted some of the local authorities to continue the measures when the project is over.
Based on the very interesting and detailed findings of the research activities and the measures implemented, SaMERU has produced a set of recommendations:
1. Action must be taken to co-ordinate transportation, social and health services to enable older people with diverse needs to remain mobile and to enjoy a good quality of life with access to services, education, work, leisure and recreation.
2. Giving up driving is a sensitive issue as it can often have a major impact on mobility and independence. There must be encouragement and funding for European, national and local authorities to develop training and support programmes for older drivers to enable them to continue driving safely for as long as they are able, to reduce their dependence on the car and encourage the use of other means of transport. Older people who have ceased driving for health reasons should be supported in using public transport, walking and cycling and provided with the necessary training and advice in the use of other modes of transport.
3. Initiatives to encourage the use of public transport , walking, cycling and taxis should target pre as well as post retirement age groups, and should highlight the significant health and long term independence benefits alongside safety advice.
4. Fitness to drive is an area for further detailed work to establish appropriate standards that may be applied consistently across all Member States. These standards should be publically acceptable and medically appropriate for drivers with widely different physical and cognitive abilities. Age should not be considered a barrier to driving as people have very different driving abilities. Support and involvement by the medical profession, families, the Police and other agencies must be provided and sought to fully understand the implications of any policy changes.
5. The method of recording and analysing road accidents should be standardised across all Member States. This would enable accurate monitoring of trends and would make it possible to compare the effectiveness of actions to improve safety and also identify possible causes of accidents involving older people.
6. Guidelines should be developed and adopted across EU Member States to improve the design and maintenance of streets with the required facilities to be audited by highway authorities for safety and ease of use by all older pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. In the past, the design and maintenance of streets has rarely taken full account of the mobility difficulties faced by older people.
7. Enforcement must take into account the needs of older pedestrians, cyclists and drivers
8. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can assist the driver by increasing safety and comfort in complex traffic situations. It is recommended that steps are taken to further develop ADAS for the specific needs and capabilities of older drivers.
9. Promotion of road safety messages, information and guidance is very important for all age groups, to develop an inter-generational understanding and awareness of the needs, limitations and potential of each generation. In particular, the active role of older citizens in society should be promoted.
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