Be aware of vulnerable road users

ALL road users are human and mobility is part of our daily life. The average driver negotiates traffic habitually, sometimes with little conscious thought. Although driving can be a monotonous activity, ongoing attentiveness is required as certain driver behaviours increase the likelihood of road crashes happening while distractions are prevalent causes among these.

Everyone using the road is at risk of injury or death in the event of a road crash. Some people are more at risk than others and are commonly referred to as vulnerable road users (VRS), a term that is defined in different ways, such as by the amount of protection in traffic (e.g. pedestrian and cyclists) or by the amount of task capability (e.g. the young and the elderly).

Vulnerable road users do not usually have ‘a protective shell’ like motorists do and therefore they are always at high risk. Vulnerable road users can ONLY be spared by limiting the driving speed of motorised vehicles and separating unequal road user types as much as possible.

Adapting motor vehicles (e.g. by side-underrun-protection for trucks and collision- friendly car fronts) can lessen the injury severity of vulnerable road users. In crashes involving only vulnerable road users and no other road users, it is mainly the infrastructure that is important for the prevention and limitation of injury.

Vulnerable road users have a high casualty rate and should therefore be given special attention in road safety strategy.

This group can be defined in a number of ways. In all cases, the lack of external protection is important and often task capability also plays an important role. Vulnerable road users can be subdivided by mode of transport or by age.

In Namibia however, vulnerable road users face an enormous risk on a daily basis as drivers do not share the road with them in an acceptable manner. Since not always do they have enough space to walk or cycle, pedestrians and cyclists are forced to walk and cycle on the road but are at times pushed off the road by drivers that do not see them and or refuse to make space for them, therefore they are at risk at all times.

In a very unique way the Women in Road Safety Project joined the City of Windhoek as they have introduced a One day – Open space for people to walk, cycle, skate, explore, play and connect and closed the road for all motorised traffic.

This wonderful event would not only encourage people to cycle but also to walk and connect without motorised traffic. The young and old, locals and visitors can come out to share the car-free space together. This will help change the minds of our drivers, not only to force them to walk, but also to remember that we all can become vulnerable road users. The car-free days will allow pedestrians and non-motorised road users an opportunity to use the road more freely.

The intention for the day is to allow movement of all people to get together on one portion of a street. The two-kilometre portion will prove space for our community to come together and realise its potential: from getting to know each other in a safe and welcoming space to having the platform to showcase our different talents.

Visit our Women in Road Safety stall at the event. For more info on the day and how you can be part of the project contact Hileni Tjivikua at +264811279321 or Email