Pedestrians who were 65 years old or older accounted for 20% of the pedestrian deaths in 2017. There are multiple reasons that pedestrian accidents are more likely to injure or kill seniors.
What are these reasons and how can seniors stay safe?
Reasons seniors are at higher risk for pedestrian accidents
Older people usually walk slower and have slower reflexes than younger people. Additionally, many older people use assistive devices, such as walkers, canes or wheelchairs. This makes it difficult for seniors to move out of the way of an oncoming car.
Seniors also tend to have poorer eyesight and hearing, which can cause them to fail to see or hear an oncoming vehicle or see pedestrian signals and crosswalks. Seniors are more likely to suffer from conditions, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, that impair memory or cause confusion.
Finally, drivers are often impatient with seniors who do not cross the road as quickly as they would like and attempt to drive around them, instead of waiting. These drivers may misjudge their maneuver and strike a senior pedestrian or cause the senior to fall into traffic.
Ways seniors can stay safe
Seniors can reduce their pedestrian accident risk by walking with a companion and ensuring that they have enough time to cross the street before the signal changes. Alternatively, they can opt to take public transportation instead of walking.
Drivers have a responsibility to drive safely around all pedestrians, including seniors. However, because some drivers ignore this responsibility, it may be a wise decision for seniors to be extra cautious when walking on or near roadways.