Crossing roads safely: an experimental study of age differences in gap selection by pedestrians

Accid Anal Prev. 2005 Sep;37(5):962-71. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2005.04.017.


The over-representation of older pedestrians in serious injury and fatal crashes compared to younger adults may be due, in part, to age-related diminished ability to select gaps in oncoming traffic for safe road-crossing. Two experiments are described that examine age differences in gap selection decisions in a simulated road-crossing environment. Three groups of participants were tested, younger (30-45 years), young-old (60-69 years) and old-old (>75 years). The results showed that, for all age groups, gap selection was primarily based on vehicle distance and less so on time-of-arrival. Despite the apparent ability to process the distance and speed of oncoming traffic when given enough time to do so, many of the old-old adults appeared to select insufficiently large gaps. These results are discussed in terms of age-related physical, perceptual and cognitive limitations and the ability to compensate for these limitations. Practical implications for road safety countermeasures are also highlighted, particularly the provision of safe road environments and development of behavioural and training packages.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Australia
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Time Factors
  • Walking*