Are the over-60s being discriminated against? 5

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It’s unlikely anyone would argue the importance of driver and pedestrian safety, especially in populated areas. Governments go to a lot of trouble to ensure our safety on the road, and as pedestrians you’ve probably crossed a pedestrian crossing or two.

But have you noticed those signs that single out specific groups of people? The one you might notice applicable to the older generation is that of a hunched over couple with a walking stick or a walking frame. They look as though they’ve seen better days.

Are signs like this one patronising or necessary?
Are signs like this one patronising or necessary?

Are signs like this one really necessary?

Obviously, you want the car on the road to slow down in order that you might cross the road safely, but what other information is being imparted here that is of any value? Does it make a bit of difference whether you are a child, a teen, an older member of the community? One wouldn’t think so when it comes to speed and safety.

If a car were approaching a suburban area, common sense would be that the driver takes care and reduces his/her speed. These signs provide no more information than those ‘baby on board’ stickers, which are optimistically slapped onto cars by parents in the hope that other drivers will take greater care around their vehicle. You can hope that a driver will consider the age of the passenger however there is no guarantee that this will factor into anyone’s driving performance.

A year or so ago there was an article about the ‘elderly crossing’ sign highlighting the controversy they had caused in locations around the world, most notably in the United Kingdom.

Critics have long argued that such signs are unnecessary and that those who listen to music or text as they walk pose a greater hazard than more mature members of the community.

In 2014, Dr Ros Altmann — a pensions expert and campaigner — called for these signs to be banned.

“I think we do not need a sign to warn people of older people,” she said at the time. “It is redundant. I don’t think they are serving any useful purpose and they are damaging.”

Such signs are said to give off a message that because you are a bit older you are somehow frail and/or disabled, andin turn this could contribute to age discrimination that still exists in society.

It’s unlikely that you, as a member of a community of over-60s, see yourself, your friends and even some of your loved ones as old and infirm.

It seems then that a rethink in the way drivers are warned to slow down or perhaps pedestrians need to be wanred about whether walking is safe or not. The recent implementations of the ‘countdown’ footpaths have been successful and don’t discriminate whether you’re young or old… you just go! You may have seen them around your suburb, where they show an actual countdown to both cars and pedestrians of how much time they have to get to the other side.

While these are obviously not a full proof way to ensure road safety, technological advances in preventative measures may be the key that enables us as a society, and not signs that blatantly spread worn-out ideas. Over-60s are more active than ever and don’t need to be treated as if they are different or impaired — you’re living into our 90s and beyond and have plenty more life in us! Crossing the road is the least of your problems.

Is there a way the image of older community members can be represented? Are elderly pedestrian crossings discriminatory? Or are they needed? Share your thoughts below.

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

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  2. Elderly people are usually slower than younger and ARE often hunched, use walking aids, don’t see or hear as well as most younger, so the signs are a special warning to motorists to be patient and understand whom they may encounter in that area.

    As an elderly person with physical, sight and hearing problems I appreciate those special signs just for people like me.

    If they don’t apply to others, there is no need of complaint from them.

    If they are changed/removed and elderly are injured or killed, let that be on the heads and consciences of those responsible for the signs as well as the drivers.

  3. I would like to see the reaction should there be signs put up warning of disabled people.
    I am sure someone can come up with a nice drawing showing some sort of disability.
    In which time, world and/or society do we live in?
    Do we really need all this degradation.

  4. I think the sign is to make drivers aware that elderly people will be using the crossings which will take longer and for drivers to be patient. It is no different than putting school children on signs at school crossings.

  5. I firmly believe these signs are an absolute must where elderly and infirm people are crossing roads. They are in no way demeaning. Sadly the profile of the old fella relates to me exactly. On several occasions, especially in supermarket carparks, I have been nearly run over by impatient drivers.

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