People age 65+ account for nearly 20% of all pedestrian fatalities. Learn how to stay safe as an older pedestrian in a society of distracted drivers.
According to NHTSA data, one pedestrian dies as a victim of a car accident every 1.5 hours (2016).
Further, 2012 data reveals seniors account for a whopping 19.7% of all such fatalities.
So, seniors (defined as those 65 and older) are clearly highly vulnerable to losing their lives when acting as pedestrians.
If you’re a senior citizen, how can you avoid becoming a statistic? Fortunately, you have a lot you can do to keep yourself safe:
- Be Seen
If possible, avoid walking in low-light conditions altogether. Walking at dusk or dawn makes you hard to see, and drivers won’t even necessarily expect to see you.
So, walk when it’s bright and sunny out.
However, if you have to walk at certain times, wear bright, reflective clothing that makes you obvious to drivers.
Just like drivers are supposed to drive defensively, you must also walk defensively.
Always assume drivers won’t see you or that they will make a driving mistake.
If you have to walk over a hill, for example, move as far off to the side as possible so you’re not even close to the road because drivers won’t be able to see you.
- Cross Carefully at Intersections
Pedestrian fatalities frequently happen when seniors either jaywalk or cross legally at intersections.
Give yourself plenty of time to make it through. Leave the second the signal tells you it’s okay to go through. If you can’t make it in time, wait for the next signal.
Stay within the crosswalk lines (many fatalities and serious injuries happen when seniors cross near, but outside the lines).
Cross with other groups of people. It’s much easier for drivers (many of whom drive distracted) to see a group of people crossing, rather than just a single person.
Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you. And if no crosswalk is available, only cross in a well-lit area, giving yourself a large gap in traffic that gives you plenty of time to cross.
- Watch for Drivers Backing Up
It’s especially hard for drivers to see you when backing out of their driveway or a parking spot. And it’s even more difficult for them to do so when backing out of a dimly lit spot in a parking ramp.
If drivers have to back up, assume they don’t see you and will hit you. Not that they will, but this means that you take the safest action and stay out of their path.
- Know Your Medications
If you have to be on a medication, that’s perfectly okay. But, know how it affects you. If it makes you dizzy, or increases your difficulty concentrating, then maybe you don’t walk alone until those feelings pass.
Or, maybe you go out with a family member or friend instead. Or, talk to your doctor about your concerns and get your medication adjusted so you don’t have those side effects (if possible).
You’ve lived a long life so far. And if you take these steps to keep yourself safe, you greatly reduce your chances of having it tragically cut short.