Improving safety for older public transport users (OPTU) - a feasibility study

On the whole, the UK public transport system is generally considered to provide a safe means of mobility. However, each year, around 6,000 people are reported by the UK police to be injured whilst using buses with more than 400 persons killed or seriously injured. Approximately 50% of those injured or killed are aged over 65 years (Department for Transport 2008). However it is thought that there are many more injured older bus-users who are not included in the national statistics and whom may now avoid travelling on public transport because of previous injuries and experiences. Whilst free travel (particularly on buses) has allowed senior citizens the freedom to travel for pleasure and social inclusion, injuries or near-falls that may occur during the journey can impact on future decisions to travel leading in some cases to anxiety/fear of sustaining further injury, loss of personal mobility and ultimately social isolation. This Feasibility Study was funded within the Medical Research Council (MRC) Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programme in order to examine the general safety (but not security) of older public transport users. It explores injury type and causation and proposes design interventions for injury prevention with an overall objective of exploring how public transport use could possibly be made safer for older transport-users. A mixed methods design was used to collect and collate data from a number of sources. These included published research literature, national accident datasets, bus-operator records, service user consultations and other stakeholder consultations with groups representing the 60+ year’s age group. The ultimate aim was to develop a pilot injury surveillance database that could in principle be used to determine vehicle design requirements, transport operator procedures and transport-user behaviors that could prevent injuries from occurring...(continues).