We’ve all heard of the problems associated with elderly drivers getting behind the wheel of a car and causing auto accidents. However, a new study shows that seniors are more likely to be involved in an auto accident as a pedestrian crossing the street than as a driver.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, reviewed data from road accident fatalities from the UK police records between 1989 and 2009. Individuals over 70 years of age were found to be five times more likely to be hit by a vehicle while walking than those in the 21-29 age group.
This statistic seems to be true for U.S. seniors. According to the Journal of America Geriatrics Society, older adults in the U.S. accounted for 37 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in 2009.
Jonathan Rolison, study lead, says the reason could be because seniors crossing the road often times underestimate speeds and distances.
This is alarming considering legislatures in both the UK and U.S. are pushing for stricter license renewal procedures for seniors. However, Rolison, indicates that, ” Assessing whether older adults can drive is important, but the problem is it leads to policies which are becoming tighter and tighter and distract us from older adults at risk as pedestrians.”
With the increase in aging baby boomers, “now is the time to focus on making pathways and transportation areas more safe,” he added.
Rolison recommends allocating more time to cross the streets and installing traffic islands as ways to mitigate pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
Source: Reuters, Driver’s seat safer than sidewalk for older adults, Natasja Sheriff, Aug 23, 2012