ACU Received AAA Funding
The Australian Catholic University (ACU) researchers, funded by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), will create a specialised program aimed at improving pedestrian safety for older adults. This initiative comes in response to a 10.3% rise in pedestrian fatalities, reaching 161 deaths in the year leading up to June 2023.
The National Road Safety Strategy has highlighted the vulnerability of older individuals as road users. To address these concerns, health sciences researchers at ACU will design a personalised online training course for individuals aged 60 and above. The program aims to boost their hazard perception abilities, ultimately minimising the likelihood of accidents and injuries.
The initiative, a pioneer in Australia, integrates 3D simulations and gamification with physical and cognitive training. Its primary aim is to equip older adults with the ability to safely navigate traffic threats while walking.
Dr. Joanne Bennett, the lead researcher from ACU’s National School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, highlighted that this innovative program represents a significant step forward in enhancing road safety.
“This cutting-edge platform enables older adults to enhance their hazard perception, physical, and cognitive skills.
“The ultimate goal is to improve pedestrian safety and, potentially, driving safety as well.
“By supporting older adults in understanding and improving their core pedestrian-safety skills, this pioneering initiative aims to help them live long, safe, and independent lives.” stated Dr. Bennett.
ACU has been granted $820,000 to create and implement an innovative program within the following two years. Collaboration between Associate Professor Jonathan Duckworth, Dr. Li Ping Thong from RMIT University’s School of Design, and ACU researchers will be pivotal in constructing the online platform.
“Combining 3D simulated hazardous roadway scenarios with gaming elements to enhance user engagement and motivation will provide a novel approach to tackle the pressing issue of pedestrian injuries and fatalities among the ageing population in Australia,” said Associate Professor Duckworth.
“Considering the target audience of older adults, the program’s design must focus on accessibility. This involves ensuring the interface is easy to navigate, accommodating varying levels of digital literacy, and supporting users with potential sensory or cognitive impairments.”
The AAA funds research and initiatives aimed at providing substantial advantages to both drivers and the broader community.
“This is a promising project that could prevent many deaths and injuries,” AAA managing director Michael Bradley said.
“Australian road death numbers are rising and our population is ageing. ACU’s work is addressing an important need and a major gap in the nation’s road safety measures.”
Improving Pedestrian Safety for Seniors
Seniors may experience reduced reflexes and slower reaction times, making them more susceptible to accidents while crossing roads. Enhancing pedestrian safety is vital to protect them from potential dangers.
Many seniors have mobility limitations, which can affect their ability to quickly navigate intersections. Road safety measures, such as pedestrian-friendly crossings and adequate crossing times, can significantly aid senior pedestrians.
Age-related changes in vision and hearing can hinder seniors’ awareness of oncoming vehicles. Implementing road safety initiatives takes into account these sensory changes and aims to create environments that accommodate seniors’ needs.
Encouraging seniors to stay active by walking is crucial for their physical and mental well-being. Ensuring their safety while walking supports their active lifestyle and maintains their independence.
Ensuring road safety for senior pedestrians requires a multi-faceted approach that combines education, infrastructure improvements, and community engagement. By recognising the unique challenges that seniors face while crossing roads and promoting awareness of road hazards, we can create environments that prioritise their safety and well-being.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. The Australian Seniors Advisory Group has no relations with the Australian Catholic University and its partners or stakeholders, or any safety advocacy organisation.