Road safety: specific challenges faced in old age

Photo (cropped) by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

The European Union and national governments must adapt road safety policy to the needs of an ageing population, as concludes a recent report by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) which sheds light on the vulnerabilities of older road users and calls for a comprehensive approach to ensure their safety while promoting their mobility and independence.

The report, released in November 2023, highlights the heightened risk of trauma faced by people aged 65 and above in road collisions compared to younger age groups. Collisions that may result in milder consequences for younger people can have severe and sometimes fatal outcomes for older people due to their increased fatality risk associated with physical impacts.

Despite these challenges, the report emphasises that travelling offers numerous health benefits that often outweigh the potential risks of road injuries and exposure to air pollution. Research indicates that these health advantages are particularly pronounced in older age groups, helping them maintain physical fitness, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and enhance overall well-being.

The challenge for the road safety community is to improve the safety of these active modes, especially for older people. To address this, the report calls for improving the safety of older pedestrians and cyclists with safe, well-protected infrastructure, while ensuring that older car drivers are not discriminated against purely on account of their age. 

We were invited to the online launch event of this report to share our views on how mobility is a critical issue for older people and how their safety can be improved.


Julia Wadoux

Policy Manager on Healthy Ageing and Accessibility

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