In the United States, there are approximately 4,000 pedestrians that die as a result of injuries sustained in the 34,000 collision related fatalities that occur each year. Pedestrian deaths account for 13 percent of all traffic related deaths. A recent study analysis conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed significant findings about the elderly population and the danger they face as pedestrians. The researchers reported that elderly pedestrians aged 75 years and older are more than twice as likely to die in motor vehicle accidents than younger people. The report was printed last month in their publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Elderly Pedestrians Aged 75 and Over are Particularly Vulnerable to Suffer Fatalities in Traffic Accidents
The CDC researchers analyzed motor vehicle accident data from the National Vital Statistics System for the years of 2001 through 2010. A total of 47,392 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle collisions during that time. A further breakdown of that number shows that males were predominantly the victims.
Males accounted for 32,873 of the total as compared to only 14,519 females, which demonstrates a 2.5 greater risk of death for men over women. There is little research that has been done to explain the great disparity between the male and female populations, but the researchers conjectured that perhaps the male gender is more likely to walk in unsafe locations and may inherently show a greater tendency to engage in riskier behaviors.
In addition, a further review of the data across all age groups showed that the pedestrian death rate increased with age in both genders. For men, the highest death rates were among the age category of greater than 85 years followed by the 75-84 years group. For women, the death rate was highest among the 75-84 year old category followed by those aged 85 or older. Despite the fact that the elderly generally hit the pavements less frequently and cover shorter distances than their younger counterparts, they are more likely to die from injuries suffered in a pedestrian related traffic accident.
When the researchers looked at all age groups combined, they were able to identify two ethnic populations that showed an increased risk of pedestrian deaths. They were Alaska Natives and American Indians. However, looking at data specifically for the over 75-age category, it was determined that Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders had the greatest risk of being a pedestrian fatality in a motor vehicle accident.
Aging Population Expected to Rise: Potential for even More Pedestrian Deaths in our Future
It is quite disconcerting to learn that so many elderly pedestrians suffer fatal injuries in traffic accidents. What is even more troublesome is that the elderly population in this country is growing; therefore, the number of elderly pedestrians that could be killed or seriously injured could also increase. Currently in the United States there are roughly 18 million people over the age of 75. The U.S. Census Bureau has predicted that there will be 44 million people in the same age bracket in the year 2040. These are staggering figures that should have us all concerned about the future health and safety of our elderly population.
Elderly pedestrians may be more prone to being killed in a traffic accident for a number of different reasons. Their reflexes are not as fast as younger people indicating that they may not be able to move fast enough or jump out of the way of an oncoming car. They may also move slowly when crossing a road and not reach the other side before the traffic signal changes. In addition, impaired vision, a declining mental function, a history of suffering from chronic diseases and age related physical deteriorations can also be additional risk factors that would contribute to their increased risk of death from a pedestrian accident.
Pedestrian Accident Fatalities: Prevention is Critical
Educational and awareness efforts need to be initiated as many of these motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians can be prevented. The CDC included some recommendations. Attention to details on the roadway can help. Crosswalks can be updated or installed to encourage people to use them when crossing streets and intersections. Sidewalks can be created on roads where they don’t currently exist. Adding more speed bumps would help decrease driver speeds. Elongating the time of pedestrian walking signals could allow more time for the aging populations to cross safely.
Other prevention strategies could include the stricter enforcement of speeding laws and the pedestrian right of way laws, distracted driving regulations such as prohibiting cell phone use, and the installation of more walking paths or streets. These efforts need to not only target the elderly population but also the high-risk ethnic populations. We need to ban together to keep our elderly population safe.
Philadelphia Pedestrian Accident Attorneys: Protecting and Fighting for the Rights of our Aging Population
The Philadelphia pedestrian accident attorneys at Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates encourage all pedestrians, young and old, to walk on sidewalks, always obey traffic-walking signals and cross at crosswalks. These are simple basic safety precautions that we all need to remind and ensure that our elderly family members are observing. Our experienced and knowledgeable Philadelphia auto accident lawyers are competent in handling all types of pedestrian accidents with a successful track record of securing fair and just settlements.
Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and in Voorhees, New Jersey. Our personal injury lawyers represent pedestrian accident injury victims and their families throughout Philadelphia County, Bucks County, Montgomery County, Chester County and Delaware County. Call our office today at 215-567-6600 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We respond promptly 24 hours a day/7 days a week.