Traffic-related pedestrian injuries are a growing public-health concern worldwide. The economic impact of motor vehicle collisions and pedestrian injuries totals over $500 billion annually. Not only do these accidents cause injuries, they lead to fatalities and disrupt the lives of the most vulnerable members of society. Many of these accident victims are disadvantaged people who already have a myriad of struggles.
In 2017, 7,700 people over the age of 65 were killed in auto accidents. As people age, their reflexes slow down. Likewise, seniors who use devices like walkers, canes, and wheelchairs move much more slowly than their younger counterparts. They’re in greater peril when crossing the street.
As the body ages, some faculties diminish. Elders may not see oncoming traffic as soon as younger people do due to loss of hearing and eyesight. Poor eyesight can also be responsible for elderly people not being able to see road signs and signals clearly.
Cognitive decline can also be another factor in pedestrian accidents, especially for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which affects 5.5 million people in the United States, most of whom are 65 and older.
Sometimes drivers can be impatient with elders and swerve around them to get by more quickly. This can cause elderly people to get unnerved and fall into oncoming traffic where they could suffer serious injuries. Falls are also more likely in cold and freezing weather, and they can be much more serious for older citizens whose bodies have grown feeble.
Drivers should always give elders extra time to walk, avoid honking or startling them, keep a safe distance from seniors, and generally drive slowly in areas with a concentration of seniors. Unfortunately, many impatient drivers on the road do not adhere to those behaviors.
Family members should try to minimize walking for seniors by offering them rides. Walking with a companion and making sure that they have enough time to cross the street are two ways seniors can be proactive.
Children under the age of 15 are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents. Young people tend to be impulsive and may not have yet developed the ability to make rational decisions while walking and crossing the street. Also, adults walking with children may overestimate the child’s cognitive ability.
Children’s small stature makes them less likely to be seen by drivers. Visibility is increasingly limited in rural roads and in bad weather. As they’re too young to drive themselves, walking is often their only form of transportation to get to and from school campuses and school buses.
Bus drivers are only able to watch them for part of their journey home. A lack of adult supervision means that they may take risks they would normally avoid. Likewise, irresponsible drivers ignore road warnings and speed limits in school zones.
For children, pedestrian deaths are more common near parks where they are carefree and perhaps too focused on play to worry about surrounding dangers.
Florida ranks number one as the deadliest state for pedestrians. The poor are even worse off. People who are economically disadvantaged are more likely to be hit by vehicles and get injured or killed. The risk is elevated for children: their death rates are higher among children from poorer and more deprived neighborhoods.
One reason this could be is that car ownership is out of reach for many residents of low income neighborhoods. A study conducted by Transportation Alternatives, a New York-based advocacy group, found that child pedestrian fatalities and injuries were clustered near public housing projects.
Keeping Streets Safe for All
Statistics show us that certain demographics are more likely to be involved in injury from a pedestrian accident. These include children, seniors, and low-income individuals. Apart from a rise in pedestrian accidents, there’s also an increased risk of fatality for these individuals.
We must ask ourselves what can be done to resolve this inequity. While many states, including Florida, have been working to solve the issues of pedestrian accidents through infrastructure and policy, there’s a lot more that needs to be done.
Have you been involved in a pedestrian accident?
If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney. The attorneys of The Eberst Law Firm have the experience you need to represent your case. We can review your case at no cost to you in a free and no-obligation consultation. Contact us online or at 772-225-4900 today.
About the Author of this Page: The above information was written or reviewed by one of the attorneys at The Eberst Law Firm who have extensive experience trying legal cases outside and inside courtrooms throughout Florida. This article was also extensively researched to ensure that all information is accurate and up to date. If you want to know more about the author of this page, view our our attorney bios here.