Senior Pedestrian Safety

Walking is recommended for people of all ages, especially for senior citizens who want to stay active and healthy. However, senior pedestrian safety has become a major concern, particularly in and around the city. Pedestrian accidents can lead to major injuries, but there are ways you can stay safe when you head out.

Elderly man walking down Chicago sidewalk

What Dangers do Senior Pedestrians Face?

Some of the biggest dangers that senior pedestrians face include:

  • Walking in urban areas without sidewalks. This creates a risk for any pedestrian, especially seniors who may stray a little too close to the traffic.
  • Intersections without lights or locations without intersections at all. This can cause confusion about who has the right-of-way.
  • Fast-moving traffic. Vehicles traveling at higher speeds pose a significant risk for senior pedestrians. Drivers are often unable to stop in time when encountering a senior pedestrian in or around the roadway.
  • Nighttime or evening walking. When senior walk at night, they have to contend with lower visibility for the drivers.
  • Impaired drivers. Driver intoxicated by alcohol or drugs are much more likely to strike pedestrians in or around the roadways.

Tips for Senior Pedestrian Safety

Creating good pedestrian safety habits is key to staying healthy. Senior pedestrians should always strive to:

  • Cross the street at designated crosswalks or intersections. Avoid walking in areas where these crossings do not exist. A crosswalk or intersection will typically give seniors more time to cross the road.
  • Walk only in areas where there are sidewalks. Avoid walking on streets with no sidewalks. However, if there is no choice but to do so, walk on the shoulder of the road and face traffic.
  • Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing when walking at night, especially in areas that are not well-lit.
  • Make eye contact with drives and visibly wave to them before crossing the street.
  • Give yourself extra time to cross the street. If there is traffic coming in either direction, do not cross until you know you can do so at a slow walking pace.

Senior pedestrians should always be aware of sidewalk and roadway defects. Watch out for potholes and broken curbs that could become tripping hazards. Cars are not the only things that can cause injuries. A fall onto the concrete can also cause serious injuries that lead to hospitalization.

Common Senior Pedestrian Accident Injuries

When we look at the statistics provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation, we can see that there were 4,940 total pedestrian crashes during the latest reporting year across the state. Out of those, 148 were fatal crashes and 4,663 were injury crashes. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that pedestrians aged 65 and older accounted for 20% of all pedestrian deaths in 2016.

Injuries from pedestrian accidents can be severe, particularly to seniors. It is not uncommon for us to see the following injuries as a result of these incidents:

These injuries can lead to tremendous medical bills and long recovery times for seniors. They can significantly alter your way of life. Walking is important for your health, and so is safety. By always following the safety tips listed above, you will go a long way towards preventing a serious accident.