The Taiwan Alzheimer’s Disease Association is calling on the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to step up measures to prevent people from straying onto highways after an incident in which a 70-year-old dementia patient was run over on National Highway No. 1.
The man, surnamed Chang (張), was hit by a vehicle on Thursday at the 17.9km mark on the inner southbound lane of National Highway No. 1.
He was only identified due to a missing persons report filed with the police.
Chang died at the scene, but the vehicle drove off, police said.
Association secretary-general Tang Li-yu (湯麗玉) said that the number of dementia patients who walk or ride their scooters onto highways or expressways has increased in recent years.
According to the association, the total number of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia in the country was more than 230,000 at the end of last year and this figure is expected to grow in the future.
Alzheimer patients lose their sense of direction and suffer from impaired judgement, Tang said, adding that it was easy for them to mistakenly enter a highway or expressway.
The loss of a sense of danger or making the wrong decision under duress could easily lead to a tragedy, Tang said.
Tang called for the ministry to be more aware of the issue and the inherent danger to traffic.
Some sufferers have even lost the ability to discern between entrances and exits of ramps and are prone to walking or riding their scooters into oncoming traffic, Tang said.
The ministry should employ friendlier and safer road designs, distinguish between expressway exits and entrance designs, and monitor the ramps for pedestrians walking up the ramps, Tang said.