Road safety training for the elderly

Road safety training for the elderly

An elderly person walks along a zebra crossing, just as a car screeches to a halt to avert an accident.

Such a scenario plays out every day at busy traffic junctions, resulting in potential danger to the elderly. But some seniors can soon learn how to safely cross roads, among other scenarios, at St Andrew's Community Hospital.

Singapore Polytechnic has partnered the Agency of Integrated Care and Temasek Cares to come up with a floor projection system at the hospital that trains the elderly on road safety.

The project comes amid a worrying trend of rising road casualties involving the elderly. In the first six months of this year, 102 elderly pedestrians died or were injured, police told The Sunday Times. Last year, the number of casualties who were elderly rose 13 per cent to 226, from 200 in 2011.

The statistic on elderly pedestrian fatalities is just as grim. Of the 44 pedestrian fatalities reported last year, more than half were above 60 years old.

A police spokesman said some of the top causes of accidents involving the elderly are jaywalking, failure to obey traffic signals and failure to use pedestrian crossings.

Mr Heng Chee How, Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, said earlier this year that senior citizens are more vulnerable on the roads due to their age and slower reflexes.

Hence, the project seeks to help the aged improve their gait, strengthen their limbs and regain their sense of balance.

For example, the pilot scheme at St Andrew's will have an image of a traffic crossing projected onto a floor for an elderly person to manoeuvre and practise with a therapist. It targets mainly elderly persons who are at high risk of suffering from falls or who have a history of stroke and arthritis, which impairs their balance or lower limbs.

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