Finnish Safety Agency Recommends Helmets and Lights for Old People Using Walkers

CC BY 2.0. They are old! Why aren't they wearing helmets?

It is about time that people acknowledged that it's not just cyclists that hit their heads. Helmets for everybody!

Earlier this year in Finland, an older pedestrian using a walker was struck and killed by a driver in a car with frosted windows. Kalle Parkkari, traffic safety investigator of the Accident Investigation Institute notes that the driver was negligent in not removing the frost from the windshield, but still "when it crashes, the helmet can prevent injuries."

Parkkari also recommends that all strollers be equipped with lights and reflectors, noting that safety equipment required for cycling should be required for strollers.

They need the lights and helmets and reflectors because they are slow, and their reactions to unexpected situations may be poor. Perhaps we can blame Google for the ageist and sexist quote from Director Parkkari:

The road crossing lasts longer for roller users than a good-looking, faster-moving man.

So the obvious conclusion is that, instead of concentrating on drivers who go to fast and do not clean the ice off their windshields, adjusting the timing for lights at crossings for the aging population, or fixing the fact that the person with the walker has been forced to use the edge of the road instead of a sidewalk, old people with strollers should be equipped with helmets! It is so logical.

Finnish Cyclist Federation board member Marjut Ollitervo is not impressed, noting that "traffic safety organisations have no scientific requirements whatsoever. They feed people their purely feeling based safety recommendations. And people listen to them." And why stop with old people?

We have often noted that helmets for drivers would save thousands of lives. One could make the argument that all older people, in fact everyone walking anywhere, should wear a helmet. What's that phrase the bike helmet proponents say? "If it just saves one life..." And no doubt it would.

My life has been touched personally by the tragedy of my mother tripping on a dark, unmarked tiny step after a fancy lunch, but I do not demand that seniors wear helmets, just that treacherous steps be repaired. Fix the infrastructure, since that is where the problem is.

Meanwhile, back at the mall in Lappeenranta, Finland, the people with strollers are not enthusiastic. "It does not sound like a good idea. I would not put my helmet on my head."