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Published: 2011-07-15 00:00:00

A spate of recent pedestrian deaths has led to a plea from the region’s safety education group for all road users to extra care.

The reminder comes with the start of the school holidays and the increased presence of children and young people on the roads during the day. 

It also follows the deaths of five pedestrians in the Waikato region over recent months, with the latest near Gordonton on Tuesday night.

Waikato Regional Council travel behaviour change coordinator Jo Carling said these deaths were a solemn reminder of people’s vulnerability when walking on or near roads.

“Children and older people in particular are the most vulnerable to injury. Children tend to be more spontaneous in their movements and lack the ability to accurately judge vehicle speeds when crossing roads. Older people may not be fully mobile and may also suffer from impaired hearing or vision.

“With the start of the school holidays motorists need to be particularly alert to the presence of children and young people crossing or cycling along our roads. But there are also steps pedestrians can take to minimise the risk of being struck by a vehicle.

“Our winter road safety campaign has now entered its third month. The campaign encourages all road users to increase their visibility, especially at night or in adverse weather conditions,” Ms Carling said.

“Pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, such as those travelling on bicycles or motorbikes, can maximise their visibility by using lights and wearing reflective clothing during the day and at night.

“Pedestrians need to be aware of the immense danger they are in when crossing the road in between cars, or trying to beat traffic. It becomes even more dangerous when the pedestrian is wearing dark clothing.

“People should use footpaths and pedestrian crossings when they are available. On country roads, people should walk well back from the road on the road verges towards the oncoming traffic.”

She added that the speed at which a vehicle hits a person can determine the outcome for that pedestrian.

“A pedestrian struck at 32 km/h has a 95 per cent chance of survival, but that survival rate drops to 55 per cent when struck by a car travelling at 48 km/h. At 70 km/h the likelihood of survival is virtually zero.

“It’s vitally important that motorists keep their speeds down in populated areas,” Ms Carling said.

The Waikato Regional Road Safety Education Group is led by Waikato Regional Council in conjunction with other regional safety stakeholders including the NZ Transport Agency, New Zealand Police, ACC and councils.

For more information on the latest campaigns visit www.reducetherisk.co.nz