A large number of elderly adults use walking as their primary form of transportation because as they age, their ability to negotiate traffic and drive safely diminishes. But because of reduced peripheral visions, slowed reflexes, and reduced agility that occurs with aging, elderly pedestrians are at high risk for pedestrian accidents.
According to the Loyola University Health System, senior citizens comprise 13 percent of the population but account for almost a quarter of pedestrian fatalities. In other words, elderly pedestrians are nearly twice as likely to be killed in an auto accident as the younger population.
Safety Tips of Elderly Pedestrians
If you are an older (or “seasoned” as we prefer to call it) pedestrian or your loved one is in their later years and walks often, it’s important to exercise extreme safety when out and about. The following safety tips can help.
- Get regular physicals to gauge your mobility and cognitive skills.
- If you notice any loss of coordination or think your medication may be affecting your balance, talk to your doctor about it.
- Allow yourself plenty of time to cross the road.
- Try to cross the street with other pedestrians. There’s safety in numbers.
- Avoid busy roadways. Look for safe, alternative routes with adequate sidewalks or footpaths.
- Before crossing the road, make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you. Then, continue scanning for cars as you cross.
- Always try to use crosswalks when available.
- Try to avoid walking when it’s dark or when the weather is poor. If you must walk at night, wear light or bright-colored or reflective clothing.
- Stay attentive to your surroundings. Distraction can be deadly.
- Ask for help crossing a busy street. There’s no shame in staying safe.
Helpful Resources for Older Pedestrians
If you are concerned about your or your loved one’s wellbeing on the roads and would need help, there are lots of transportation services in Bucks County that are available. You may want to start by searching Care.com’s list of senior transportation providers in your area. The Bucks County Area Agency on Aging has a lot of useful references and resources, too. They have a program that subsidizes transportation for older people. You can call 215-642-2335 to learn more and get an application.
Lastly, you may want to visit the pedestrian accident blog at Cordisco & Saile LLC. It is regularly updated with articles of interest to residents throughout Pennsylvania.