Falling while walking: a hidden contributor to pedestrian injury

Jennie Oxley
Steve O’Hern
Duane Burtt
Ben Rossiter

Walking is a sustainable mode of transportation which is beneficial to both individuals and to the broader community, however, there are risks and it is essential that road design and operation provides safe conditions for walking. In Victoria, pedestrians represent one of the most vulnerable road user groups, accounting for approximately 12 percent of all road fatalities and serious injuries. These figures largely represent injuries where the pedestrian has been struck by a vehicle with the extent of pedestrian-only injuries largely un-reported.

Falling while walking may be a significant contributor to pedestrian only injuries. Indeed, the World Health Organisation has identified falls generally as the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in older populations. Despite the prevalence of fall-related injuries, there has been relatively little research undertaken to address the issues surrounding falls that occur while walking for transport and in public spaces. This study, therefore, aimed to address this gap in our knowledge.

Analyses of various data sources were undertaken to enhance our understanding of fall-related injuries while walking in Victoria. Two sources of data were accessed:

  • Hospital data: Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU) Data (5-years between 2009 and 2014)
  • Crash data: Victorian Police Report Crash Data (Crash Stats) (5 years between 2008 and 2013)

Only 85 fall-related incidents were reported in the crash-based data, however, pedestrian falls while walking in the road environment accounted for an average of 1,680 hospital admissions and 3,545 emergency department presentations each year, and this number is rising.

The findings in this study show clearly that Police data is of little use when attempting to understand issues of safe travel for pedestrians other than vehicle-pedestrian incidents. However, analysis of hospital data provides a more realistic indication of the extent of pedestrian fall-related injuries and highlights the significant number of pedestrian fall-related injuries that occur each year. Moreover, the findings identified that older pedestrians are significantly over-represented amongst fall-related injuries that require hospital admission, while also having the highest rate of emergency department presentations when adjusting for age. The study also highlighted that the most common injury sustained from a fall were fractures.

The implications of these findings are discussed in terms of enhancements to the physical environment (particularly footpath, kerb and ramp construction and maintenance), implementation of fall hazard assessment and management strategies, and educational programs to highlight the risks for falls and recommend preventative strategies, and overall enhancements of general fall interventions to include falls while walking outside (including exercise interventions).

MEET US


25-27
Aug

ICTTP 2020

ICTTP, International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology, is held in Gothenburg, Sweden.

LATEST NEWS


2018-11-19

Report regarding government commission on the costs of traffic to society has been submitted

Since 2013, the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) has had several government commissions to produce documentation on the costs to society caused by traffic. On 1 November 2018, the agency reported its latest commission, Samkost 3....


2018-10-29

International standardisation efforts have many advantages

VTI participates in several international standardisation committees. The work is important because it helps to ensure that standards can be adapted to Swedish conditions and it also provides access to valuable contacts and networks.


2018-10-24

China wants to work with the best

Through the CTS cooperation, VTI is gaining valuable research contacts with China. The country is facing major challenges in the field of road safety but also has enormous potential.


2018-10-23

VTI participated in conference on electric roads

Systems with electrified roads are a relatively new concept and many projects have been launched in recent years. To stimulate the transfer of knowledge and collaboration, the Research and Innovation Platform for Electric Roads arranged its second...


2018-10-18

ADAS&ME is tackling the interaction between people and technology

ADAS&ME is a major EU project focused on automation, the human condition and the human environment. The budget is EUR 9.6 million and VTI is the coordinator.


2018-10-05

Users contribute to the development of train simulators

Apart from advanced driving simulators, VTI has developed several variations of train simulators which are used for training, education and research. In recent years, interest has increased drastically among major actors in the railway sector, and VTI has...