BENDIGO drivers have hit pedestrians 208 times in 10 years, the most extensive study of its type in Victoria has revealed.
The city recorded the third highest number of crashes involving pedestrians in regional Victoria, behind Geelong and Ballarat.
Monash University researchers have raised concerns about trauma in regional areas in their new report Understanding Pedestrian Crashes in Victoria.
"Regional centres in Victoria typically have higher proportions of older adults and addressing pedestrian road safety issues in these regions may substantially reduce the over-representation of older pedestrians," they wrote.
Offending drivers have hit 7000 Victorian pedestrians, the researchers found.
Melbourne had the lion's share of crashes at 81.5 per cent, but researchers noted that regional Victoria was overrepresented when they factored in population statistics.
"Children experienced higher rates of crash involvement in regional and rural areas compared to metropolitan Melbourne (14.8 per cent vs 12.1 per cent) as did older adults (70+) (18.3 per cent vs 14.3 per cent)," researchers noted.
They also found men a majority of regional crashes involved men.
It has prompted advocacy group Victoria Walks to call for drivers to be more vigilant around people walking.
The group's chief executive Ben Rossiter was alarmed that drivers fled the scene of 15 per cent of crashes involving pedestrians.
"Leaving someone injured on the side of the road is pretty despicable," he said.
"We need strong enforcement for those cases and things like distracted driving. We also need better education of drivers on the need to give way to pedestrians when turning."
Mr Rossiter said Victorians were taking more walks because of COVID-19 restrictions.
"(So) we need to invest in pedestrian road safety now and into the recovery phase," he said.
Monash researchers recommended authorities explore ideas to reduce speed limits and street designs, use enforcement strategies targeting "abhorrent behavior" towards vulnerable road uses and give more space for pedestrian strategies.
Researchers also noted that there were a high number of cases where police did not classify the driver as an offender.
"It is possible that in some of these cases pedestrian behaviours may have been a contributing factor," they wrote.
The researchers did not have the data to establish whether pedestrians were at fault in those cases.
They said more research was needed to see if walkers were taking risks and to work out if strategies to stop that behavior were needed.
The research was funded by a TAC Community Road Safety Grant.
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