LEIPZIG, Germany ― Korea again posted the highest fatality rate of pedestrians among the 29 OECD member nations last year, a recent report found Wednesday.
The figures came amid growing attention for walking as an alternative transportation for cars and other motorized vehicles at the 2013 International Transport Forum that kicked off Wednesday in Leipzig, Germany.
In the OECD report entitled “Pedestrian Safety, Urban Space and Health,” pedestrian fatalities made up 37 percent of all road deaths in Korea last year, almost double the OCED average of 18 percent.
New Zealand reported the lowest pedestrian fatality rate at 8 percent.
“Driver negligence and pedestrian behavior are the main causes of collisions,” the report said. “Higher speeds increase the probability and the consequences of a crash.”
More than 20,000 pedestrians die annually in OECD countries. While senior citizens aged 65 or older represent 13 to 20 percent of the population, they account for more than half the total pedestrian deaths, the report said.
OECD nations saw their combined number of road deaths hit a record low last year due to enhanced efforts for road safety, but Korea had the highest rate.
In separate 2011 OECD data, Korea’s death rate in car accidents overall was 11.3 per 100,000 people, the highest figure, followed by Greece with 11.1 and the United States with 10.6 respectively.
The report, authored by a group of researchers from 19 countries together with World Health Organization, pointed out lowering motorized traffic speeds reduces the frequency and severity of crashes, especially those involving pedestrians.
According to their study, the risk of death or serious injury to pedestrians rises rapidly at impact speeds above 30 kilometers per hour. Travel speeds of 30 kilometers per hour can reduce the risk of fatal injury to a pedestrian by more than 80 percent compared to travel at speeds of 50 kilometers per hour.
The report also spotlighted on walking for more efficient and sustainable funding for transport, saying it is inexpensive, emission-free, accessible for all and also has health benefits.
By Lee Ji-yoon, Korea Herald correspondent