Older pedestrians and alcohol - a lethal cocktail

Nearly half of all middle-aged pedestrians killed in London road accidents were impaired by alcohol, a study has revealed.

Scientists examined a sample of 198 road deaths that were “representative” of fatal pedestrian collisions in the capital between 2006-2010. Nearly half of those aged 30 to 49 were impaired by alcohol, while for 38 per cent of fatalities of people aged 16 to 59, being under the influence was a “contributory factor”.

The deaths were mostly at night and weekends, often within 50 metres of a pedestrian crossing, according to the analysis of police records. The Transport for London-commissioned study found that across all ages, nearly a quarter of pedestrians killed were impaired by drink.

Other findings of the Transport Research Laboratory were that a quarter of the 198 road deaths happened as  victims were on crossings and 19 per cent took place when pedestrians chose “not to use the available crossing”.

A total of 33 pedestrians (17 per cent) died in collisions with buses and coaches, 115 (56 per cent) were hit by cars, and 32 (16 per cent) were struck by speeding vehicles. Lorries were involved in 27 of the deaths (14 per cent) and the study, Analysis of Police Collision Files for Pedestrian Fatalities in London, reveals that in 10 cases, pedestrians who had been drinking were also under the influence of drugs. Overall, 90 per cent of collisions were on roads with speed limits of 30mph or less.

Four pedestrians were using phones, two were wearing headphones, 10 were following others, six were talking, two were eating and drinking and one was reading. Fifty-seven per cent of victims were male, 33 per cent were over 70 and around nine per cent were children. Nearly half of pedestrian fatalities failed to look properly before the collision.

Overall 68 motorists were convicted following the collisions, mostly for careless driving and 24 vehicles failed to stop at the crash scene but all were traced.

The study recommends greater pedestrian education and targeted speed enforcement. Paul Watters, AA head of roads policy said: “They are sobering statistics. What we must do now is act on them, with more road safety education campaigns, to save lives.”

TfL senior road safety manager Ben Johnson said: “The information from this important research will feed into the development of a pedestrian safety action plan for London.”

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