Elderly Need Longer To Cross The RoadEditor's Choice
Main Category: Seniors / Aging
Article Date: 19 Jun 2012 - 15:00 PST
Elderly Need Longer To Cross The Road
|Patient / Public:|
Most people take the ability of crossing a road in time for granted. However, a new UK study featured in Age and Ageing, which has compared the walking speed of those aged 65 years or older with the speed required to use a pedestrian crossing, has revealed people need to walk faster than 1.2 meters per second in order to cross a pedestrian crossing.
The study, entitled 'Most older pedestrians are unable to cross the road in time: a cross-sectional study' was led by Dr Laura Asher of the Department of Epidemiology & Public Health at UCL (University College London).
The findings demonstrated that the average walking speed in England's Health Survey was 0.9 meters per second for older men and 0.8 meters per second for older women. This is much slower than the required speed to cross a pedestrian crossing in the UK and in several other countries in the world.
The researchers note that the walking speed decreased with increasing age of the participants. They established that 76% of men and 85% of women walked slower than the 1.2 meters per second required to walk over a pedestrian crossing. They also discovered that 84% of men and 93% of women suffered from a walking impairment.
Laura Asher remarks:
"Being able to cross the road is extremely important for local residents. It affects older adults' health, as they are more likely to avoid crossing a busy road. Walking is an important activity for older people as it provides regular exercise and direct health benefits. Being unable to cross a road may deter them from walking, reducing their access to social contacts and interaction, local health services and shops, that are all important in day to day life."
"Older pedestrians are more likely to be involved in a road traffic collision than younger people due to slower walking speed, slower decision making and perceptual difficulties. Older people who are hit are also more likely to die from their injuries than younger people. Having insufficient time at a road crossing may not increase the risk of pedestrian fatalities but it will certainly deter this group from even trying to cross the road.
For older people, the ability to venture outside of the home is not only important for health benefits but is also important to maintain relationships, social networks and independence. Physical activity in older residents is dependent on their ability to negotiate their local environment, including crossing a road safely. The groups of people identified in this study as the most vulnerable and as having a walking impairment are also the least likely to have access to other, more expensive, forms of transport."
Asher and her team used evidential walking speeds from other studies to demonstrate that the likelihood of people having a walking impairment tended to be higher amongst the 'oldest old', current smokers, those living in a deprived area, and those with a poor grip strength, as well as in those older people with a fair or worse general state of health, or those with a longstanding illness.
For their cross-sectional study, the team obtained 2005 data from the Health Survey for England (HSE), which included a boost sample of individuals above 65 years. The team obtained data by interviewing the surveyed people, whilst a total of 3,145 older adults received a home visit by a nurse, in which 90% of men and 87% of women took the walking speed test.
The key findings of the study include:
- Most people above the age of 65 in the UK are not able to walk fast enough to safely cross a pedestrian crossing safely
- Individuals with a slower walking speed are more likely to live in deprived areas
- The ability to safely cross the road is important for older adults so they can stay physically active, maintain social contacts, as well as visit shops and access services
- There is a need to review the current pedestrian crossing timings
"Further consideration needs to be taken on the time allowed at pedestrian crossings. Pedestrian crossing times are currently being decreased in London as part of the Smoothing Traffic Flow Strategy, which is one component of the 2010 Mayor's Transport Strategy. Although there has been no alteration in the minimum assumed walking speed of pedestrians, there is a reduced 'invitation to cross' (green man) time. Our study has shown that even before these changes, the vast majority of people over 65 years old in England are unable to walk fast enough to use a pedestrian crossing."
Written By Petra Rattue
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today
Laura Asher, Maria Aresu, Emanuela Falaschetti and Jennifer Mindell
Age and Ageing, June 2012, doi: 10.1093/ageing/afs076
25 May. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/246784.php>
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
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