Taiwanese pedestrians should walk toward traffic: professor

Professor calls on pedestrians to walk on left side of street facing oncoming traffic to avoid serious injuries

(CNA photo)

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Research by a Taiwanese professor is reinforcing the government's policy of encouraging pedestrians to face traffic while walking down the street.

According to research by Taipei Medical University associate professor Pai Chih-Wei (白志偉), the fatality rate for accidents involving pedestrians is 1.2 times higher for those who walk with their backs facing vehicles as they walk on the right side of the road. Therefore, Pai urges pedestrians to walk on the left side of the road and face oncoming traffic, which he claims is safer.

Pai told CNA that in years past, pedestrians in Taiwan were encouraged to stay on the right side of the street and follow the flow of traffic. Yet in recent years, some Western countries have begun to overturn this concept, observed Pai.

For example, researchers in Finland have found that pedestrians who walked towards traffic were less likely to be struck by vehicles. Many countries around the world have started to make laws requiring pedestrians to walk towards traffic.

According to statistics released by police of traffic accidents involving pedestrians from 2011 to 2016, Pai's research team found that the severity of accidents and fatality rate for pedestrians walking away from vehicles was significantly worse than those who walked with their face turned toward cars. Researchers found that those waking with the direction of traffic on the right side of the road were 1.2 times more likely to be fatally struck by a vehicle.

Pai pointed out if pedestrians walk in the opposite direction of traffic, they can see the traffic flow and have more time to react, thus the severity of the accident will be reduced. Furthermore, researchers have found that drivers are more likely to slow down when they see a pedestrian facing them.

In recent years, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has also promoted walking toward traffic, but Pai believes that it is necessary to further educate the public about the practice. Pai said that his research has found that it is significantly safer to walk toward vehicles when there is a lack of a sidewalk or when cars are illegally parked on the sidewalk.