Opinion

Walking safely

by
May 05, 2016

For far too long, the consequence of poor infrastructure causing people to fall in the street has been ignored.

With funding from VicHealth, Victoria Walks commissioned Monash University Accident Research Centre to conduct a detailed study of falls while walking and the results are worrying.

This groundbreaking research found trips and falls in the street send more than 5000 pedestrians to hospital in Victoria each year — even more than collisions with cars.

While people of all ages might fall in the street, the consequences of falling can be devastating for older people in particular. Older people are more fragile so more likely to be seriously injured and they take longer to recover after being tripped on a footpath or kerb.

Falling and breaking a hip can be life changing and lead to premature death.

International research shows that up to 40 per cent of hip fracture patients die within a year of their injury.

The Victorian and Federal Governments need to start investing in making walking safer and supporting councils to improve footpath surfaces and road crossings.

There are great economic costs associated with falls and ill health and they cannot simply expect local councils to foot the bill.

We urge everyone to take notice of tripping hazards and poor footpaths, particularly where seniors walk, and report issues to their local council.

Submitted by Dr Ben Rossiter

Executive officer, Victoria Walks, Melbourne

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