ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

A qualitative investigation of older pedestrian views of influences on their road crossing safety

Shaw, L, Lennon, Alexia, King, Mark J. (Peer reviewed)

Older Drivers/Users

2012

With Australia‟s population rapidly ageing, older pedestrian safety has begun to receive greater attention from road safety researchers. However, reliance on simulator studies and observational techniques has limited current understanding of why older pedestrians adopt particular crossing behaviours, and how they perceive crossing the road. The current study aimed to investigate the psychological factors that may contribute to older pedestrians‟ crash risk by examining their perceptions of the issues they encounter on the road. Qualitative semi-structured interviews with 18 pedestrians aged 55 years and older were conducted, and the interview transcripts underwent thematic analysis. From this analysis, four key themes emerged. Firstly, the physical design of the road was perceived as posing a significant threat for older pedestrians, particularly sloped, semi-mountable kerbs and designated crossings. Secondly, declines in older pedestrians‟ confidence in their ability to cross the road were evident through fewer reported risks being taken. Additionally, older pedestrians sensed an increased threat from other road users when crossing the road, particularly from drivers and cyclists. Finally, older pedestrians referred to the informal rules and strategies used to guide their road crossing. The results suggest that the road environment is perceived as increasingly dangerous and hazardous environment for older pedestrians. Implications regarding the physical road design in areas with an existing high proportion of elderly people are discussed.