Pedestrian accidents and fatalities are on the rise in many cities across the United States. In 2017, 5,977 pedestrians were killed in accidents, and thousands more were injured. Of those, 21 percent of fatalities occurred among pedestrians ages 50-59. Adults over 65 account for another 20 percent of all pedestrian fatalities, with 1,165 deaths in 2017. Sadly, that means older and elderly pedestrians are around twice as likely to be killed in a pedestrian accident than their younger counterparts.
Walking is an important part of life for many older adults. It is a form of transportation, exercise and enjoyment. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some safety tips that may help older pedestrians get where they need to go safely.
Safety Tips for Older Pedestrians
As we age, certain functions deteriorate, such as our peripheral vision, reflexes and mobility. This is especially true among the elderly population. In an effort to combat these changes, here are some safety tips for older pedestrians:
· Always use a sidewalk when one is available
· If no sidewalk is available, walk close to the edge of the road and face against traffic
· Only cross the street at designated crosswalks
· If possible, cross the street with other pedestrians in a group
· Obey “Walk/Don’t Walk” signals
· Be aware of countdown signals and allow yourself plenty of time to cross
· Look both ways before crossing the street
· When crossing the road, make eye contact with the driver before you cross
· Be mindful of vehicles that may be turning (you cannot rely on drivers using their blinkers)
· Avoid walking during bad weather, such as rain, fog, ice or snow
· When walking in a parking lot or garage, be mindful of engine noises that may indicate a vehicle is moving
· If you walk regularly, especially in the morning, evening or nighttime, wear bright colors and a reflective vest whenever possible
· Avoid distractions while walking, especially headphones, texting or reading
· Never walk near roadways after consuming alcohol or drugs
These tips can help older pedestrians stay safe, but in reality, are good practice for anyone walking on or near the road.