Recently, we noted that senior citizens are among the groups most likely to be injured or killed as pedestrians. In fact, people 65 and over account for almost a quarter of pedestrian fatalities. They have nearly twice as much chance of being fatally struck by a vehicle than the population as a whole.
One key reason is that their reflexes and senses aren’t what they used to be. This is the same reason that many seniors stop driving and are likely to be pedestrians.
Many seniors’ hearing and eyesight (including peripheral vision) aren’t what they used to be, so they may not hear a car coming or realize how close it is. Finally, many simply don’t move as quickly as they used to, so it takes them longer to cross the street or get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle.
We know that alcohol is behind too many pedestrian accidents for people of all ages, including seniors. However, medications can also impair awareness and response time. Of course, various mental conditions can also lead to carelessness or inattention.
Senior citizens are among the people most likely to walk to their destinations rather than drive. That’s why it’s essential that they take steps to help ensure their safety. Just as family members may intervene to stop loved ones from driving, in some cases they may want to find transportation alternatives besides walking. For those who are able to get around as pedestrians, these tips can help ensure your safety:
- Don’t walk if you are under the influence of alcohol or any medication.
- Cross the street only at designated crosswalks (preferably marked ones and/or those with traffic lights).
- Stop and look around before crossing any street to check for traffic in all directions.
- Make eye contact with nearby drivers to ensure that they see you.
- Allow yourself enough time to cross. Don’t try to cross on a blinking light that’s about to turn red.
When a pedestrian is injured or killed by a vehicle, drivers often try to blame the pedestrian. However, if you or a loved one have been hurt as a pedestrian, it’s important that the accident is thoroughly investigated to determine who was at fault. If the driver was at fault, he or she can be held criminally and civilly liable.
Source: Loyola University Health System, “Road Safety for Elderly Pedestrians,” accessed Sep. 08, 2015
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