Nearly a third of elderly people killed in traffic accidents in Cyprus were pedestrians, a European transport safety council (ETSC) report said on Tuesday.

During the three-year period from 2020 to 2022, 32 per cent of elderly accident fatalities were travelling on foot, the report showed.

In the past decade, Cyprus has seen a decrease in elderly fatalities in line with the average 3 per cent annual decrease for the EU. Those aged over 65 are considered elderly in the report.

The reduction is attributed to general measures to improve road safety which have benefitted the elderly as well.

According to the report, over 5,400 older people died in traffic accidents in the EU in 2021.

However, the percentage of traffic accident deaths among the elderly compared to their deaths from all causes is much lower than that for the rest of the population.

Specifically, the average percentage in the EU for the elderly dying in road accident is 0.14 per cent while for the rest of the population it stands at 2 per cent. Cyprus has the highest relative percentage of elderly road fatalities, at 0.22 per cent.

According to the European Transport Safety Council, the solution to the problem is not to discourage older people from walking or cycling, since physical exercise is beneficial, reduces the risk of chronic disease and improves quality of life.

The aim should therefore rather be to make these modes of transport more secure and increase the availability of public transport.

As for elderly drivers, the effectiveness of mandatory medical tests based on age brackets is currently under debate, since such tests have not shown a significant correlation with preventing serious accidents involving older drivers, according to the report.

Studies have shown that certain diseases are more serious factors than age alone.

Improving public transport services for the elderly is highlighted as a way to reduce elderly fatalities overall.

The EU has set a target to halve the total number of road deaths by 2030, based on 2019 levels.

Norway is the safest participating country with 21 road deaths per million inhabitants in 2022, followed by Sweden with 22 deaths per million inhabitants.