Arguably, an important test of a truly safe road traffic system is whether or not pedestrians can use the system without being seriously harmed. Currently of the 1.24 million people who are killed annually in road traffic crashes more than one fifth of these are pedestrians. A safe system does not accept that vulnerable road users such as pedestrians are inevitably at risk of serious harm when vehicle traffic is present. Important risk factors for pedestrian injury are lack of safe infrastructure facilities for pedestrians, vehicle speed, alcohol use by drivers and pedestrians, and inadequate visibility of pedestrians.
Rapid motorisation as is occurring in countries with developing economies presents a significant challenge to the goals of reducing or eliminating injury risks faced by pedestrians. Evidence based interventions exist, yet too often pedestrian safety does not attract the attention it requires, given the magnitude of the problem.
The recently released Pedestrian Safety: A Road Safety Manual for Decision-Makers and Practitioners supported by the World Health Organisation, the FAI Foundation, the Global Road Safety Partnership, and the World Bank provides guidance for developing and implementing comprehensive measures to improve pedestrian safety. It covers the extent of pedestrian fatalities and injuries, the importance of addressing the key associated risk factors for pedestrian injury, and the steps outlined for conducting a situational assessment to help with prioritizing interventions and preparing a related plan of action. The manual covers use of the pillars of the safe system to improve pedestrian safety: infrastructure, speed, vehilces, and behaviour. This manual is applicable worldwide but specifically targets decision-makers and practitioners in low- and middle- income countries.