Crossing the street can be an incredibly dangerous endeavor. If drivers aren’t paying attention or they are impatient, pedestrians can get seriously injured or even killed. While a person of any age is at risk when they cross the street, it has been found that seniors are often victims of pedestrian accidents.
It has also been found that the death rate of seniors after a pedestrian accident is higher than other age groups. Statistics for 2017 show that 20% of pedestrian deaths belong to the 65 years and above age group. Here are some reasons why seniors get hurt more often in pedestrian accidents:
- Diminished physical health
- Decreased mobility and reflexes
- Vision or hearing issues
- Drivers become impatient
And now let us take a closer look at each of these reasons.
1. Diminished Physical Health
The older a person gets, the more health issues they encounter. It is as simple as that. One of the biggest contributing factors to why seniors are hurt more often in pedestrian accidents is because their bones aren’t as strong as they used to be.
A human body isn’t going to win when they collide with an automobile, but younger bodies are more flexible and have the ability to heal faster after damage. “Older” bodies not so much. So, even a relatively mild impact can prove fatal for seniors.
Once bones have become brittle and break, it may take them a long time to heal, if they ever fully heal at all. Besides, many seniors also suffer from other health issues, including heart problems, that could be impacted during a pedestrian accident.
In addition, a senior could experience a heart attack or be on blood thinners, which would make even a simple wound bleed profusely or increase the risk of internal bleeding. All of these could make even a minor traffic accident a major issue.
2. Decreased Mobility and Reflexes
Many of the health issues that seniors deal with impact how quickly they are able to move. In some cases, seniors might also have to rely on canes, wheelchairs, or walkers to help them walk. They are often involved in more pedestrian accidents because it takes them a longer time to cross the street or move out of the way if a driver runs a red light.
3. Vision or Hearing Issues
If a senior suffers from poor eyesight or hearing loss, this could impact their ability to see or hear oncoming traffic. And so they may think that it is safe to cross and step into the street when there is danger present.
Without clear sight, it may also be hard for seniors to see pedestrian signals or know exactly where the designated crosswalks are, increasing their chances of getting into a pedestrian accident.
For seniors that suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, this could cause confusion or result in other mental issues that make it difficult for them to cross the street. They may even venture into high-traffic areas because they don’t know where they are. If any of these behaviors occur, it increases the chances for a senior to get injured or potentially killed when doing something as simple as crossing the street.
5. Drivers Become Impatient
In some cases, drivers can become impatient waiting for seniors to cross the street. When that happens, they might decide that they can speed around them. But this could take the senior pedestrian by surprise and cause them to fall. The fall itself can be enough to cause injury and pain, but it may also result in the senior falling into oncoming traffic, which can lead to more serious complications and potentially death.
What is more, reckless drivers also pose a danger to senior pedestrians, as they might perceive the incoming danger with delay and it may take them more time to react.
Tips for a Safe Crossing
As a pedestrian, there are several precautions you can take to lower the risk of accidents. These suggestions apply to pedestrians of all ages, those who belong to a vulnerable group should pay special attention to these:
- cross the street only at crosswalks; granted, sometimes it might be an inconvenience to find the nearest crosswalk, but it is the safest path.
- increase your visibility during nighttime hours or any low-light conditions by wearing reflective pieces of clothing or a flashlight; wearing a reflective vest might not be the coolest look, it is indisputably effective. Choose efficiency over aesthetics. Visit here to read more about the role weather conditions play in pedestrian accidents and how to prevent these.
- consider walking with a friend or in groups; this will positively impact your visibility, not to mention that it will make the stroll all the more pleasant.
- avoid walking on the road; if possible, walk on the sidewalk, but if a path is not available, make sure that you are facing traffic.
- avoid or limit distractions while you cross the street, ensure that your attention is fully dedicated to this seemingly simple task.
Since the majority of pedestrian injuries and deaths take place during the night, at non-intersection locations in urban locations, seniors should be hypervigilant under these conditions.
Crossing with Care
Reducing the number of seniors injured in pedestrian accidents requires everyone to become involved and cooperate. Drivers need to slow down and pay attention, especially in areas where there is a high population of seniors. Also, they need to find their resources and show patience for any pedestrian crossing the street.
To continue, seniors should take extra precautions while crossing. Furthermore, if they notice that they might have any difficulty in this activity, they should not hesitate to ask for help. This is a shared responsibility with their family members, who should be ready to intervene in helping the seniors in their daily routine.
Finally, other pedestrians should also take on the responsibility to help out a senior, whenever the situation may warrant it. Assisting them to cross the street is a small deed but it helps protect a life.
If you are or know a senior pedestrian who was involved in an accident, make sure to contact a reputable law firm. Experts will take a closer look at your particular case and help determine the particular merits.