A survey was carried out among 473 elderly pedestrians who had been involved in road accidents in Sussex. When asked about the details of the accidents, 63 per cent said they did not see the striking vehicle before it hit them. Forty-one per cent of those who had seen it said that it was doing something unusual or unexpected: in 30 per cent of these cases it was reversing. The pedestrians often seemed to have made an incorrect judgement as to what the driver or rider would do next, in terms of speed or course to be followed; had they possessed the kind of knowledge that a driver skilled in 'defensive driving' has, it might have been possible for them to avoid the accident. One-third of these pedestrians had problems with walking, eyesight or hearing, and some who had these problems thought these could have partly caused the accident. Although more than one-third were taking medicines and a few had had alcohol shortly before the accident, very few felt that doing this had contributed to the accident. One-fifth said that they could have walked by a safer route and in particular that it would have been wiser to have used a pedestrian crossing. It is suggested that the elderly might benefit if they could be given advice as to how best to compensate for physical handicaps, guidance as to what are safe routes on local common journeys (such as to the shops) and tuition as to how to predict more accurately what drivers and riders are likely to do in particular circumstances.

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