In 2016, almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in America.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every hour and a half a pedestrian is killed in an accident. Additionally, every eight minutes a pedestrian is hurt in a crash.
Pedestrians are one and a half times more likely to suffer from a fatal accident than the occupants of vehicles.
Senior citizens and the elderly have the highest risk of dying from being struck by a vehicle. Seniors make up one fifth of all deaths from pedestrian accidents. However, they only account for roughly 15% of all pedestrians injured in car accidents.
Why are Seniors at a Higher Risk of Pedestrian Injuries and Deaths
The biggest factor in all pedestrian crashes is inattentive or distracted drivers.
Irresponsible driving often includes failing to come to a complete stop behind the stop lines, carelessly turning in front of pedestrians crossing the street, and disregarding stop signs or red lights.
In addition, pedestrian crashes increase when drivers are on their cell phones or driving while drunk or on drugs. According to the CDC, in 2015, 48% of fatal crashes involving pedestrians also consisted of drinking and driving or intoxication of the pedestrian.
Seniors are at a higher risk of injury in pedestrian crashes for several reasons. Understanding these reasons can help drivers as well as other people walking be watchful and help seniors avoid accidents.
Elderly people have particular difficulties that when combined with certain circumstances, put them at a higher risk of being hit by vehicles, including:
- Short traffic signals: As people get older, their bodies start to change. Eventually, seniors lose the ability to move quickly, as they once could. As a result, it takes seniors much longer to cross the street, and this decreased mobility constraints their ability to dodge oncoming vehicles or quickly move out of the way. Thus, in cases with short traffic lights, seniors may find themselves still trying to cross the street after the light has already turned green.
- Vision problems: Seniors are much more likely to have vision difficulties. This means they might not see the oncoming vehicles or pedestrian crossing indicators until it is too late. Cataracts could make it especially difficult for seniors to see at night. Also, seniors are at an increased risk of walking into unsafe traffic situations because they fail to see the traffic light or crosswalk. Elderly individuals with vision problems may attempt to cross the street at the wrong time.
- Hearing difficulties: Impaired hearing increases the chances of a senior getting hit, because he or she might not be able to hear drivers honking their horns.
- Being confused or disoriented: In cases in which seniors suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, they may easily get lost while walking around. Being disoriented could easily cause them to walk out into the road. Being lost or unfamiliar with the street also places seniors at risk of an accident.
- Stopping in the middle of the road: Often seniors with health conditions can become too tired to continue crossing the street, which makes them easy targets for drivers not paying attention.
- Jaywalking: While pedestrians are typically supposed to use crosswalks, many choose to simply cross mid-block or at a slant. Also, seniors sometimes decide to jaywalk to stay away from busy intersections.
- Elderly people do not heal as quickly: Even the aftermath of a low-impact accident can prove fatal or severe for senior victims. Seniors may require days in intensive care, under close supervision, while others may heal much faster. Often elderly accident victims never fully recover from serious injuries.
Tips to Help Senior Avoid Pedestrian Crashes
By following the below advice, seniors can prevent some of the accidents in which they are commonly involved:
- If available, always walk on the sidewalk.
- When there is no sidewalk, walk on the shoulder of the road. Walk facing traffic, so that you can see oncoming vehicles.
- Avoid all distractions when walking near a road so you can focus remaining senses on avoiding accidents.
- Never assume a driver will see you when crossing the street.
- Always try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
- Be predictable and cross the street at a crosswalk or intersection if possible. Drivers expect elderly pedestrians to cross at the crosswalk.
- When no crosswalk exists, find a well-lit location and wait for a gap in traffic that will give you sufficient time to safely cross.
- If you have vision problems, you should always wear your glasses, so you can see cars more clearly.
- If you have mobility difficulties, use a cane or walker so you will not fall while crossing the street.
- If you have hearing problems, you should always remember to put in your hearing aids, so you can hear vehicles approaching.
- If you have any conditions that cause you to get confused or disoriented easily, you should not walk alone.
- You should avoid walking in areas with which you are unfamiliar.
- If you become tired while crossing the street, continue walking until crossing the street completely.
- If you get lost, have friends or loved ones whom you can contact for help.
Contact a West Virginia Accident Attorney
If you or an elderly loved one has suffered serious injuries as a result of a car accident while crossing the street, you could greatly benefit from the assistance of an experienced attorney in West Virginia who knows the ins and outs of personal injury cases.
At Goddard & Wagoner, LLC, we know that especially elderly pedestrian victims usually need extensive and expensive medical treatment. Our personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is never any legal fees until we win or settle your claim.
With over 20 years of combined legal experience and millions of dollars recovered on behalf of our clients, you can trust us to passionately and persistently fight to secure the compensation you or your elderly loved one deserve.
If you want the best possible outcome in your lawsuit, you should call Goddard & Wagoner, LLC. To learn more how our Clarksburg injury attorneys can help, dial (304) 584-1430 now, or contact us online for a free consultation regarding your pedestrian accident.