About 4,000 U.S. pedestrians are killed each year by motor vehicles, and most are ages 75 and older, says the CDC. Older walkers are twice as likely to die from motor vehicle injuries than are people 34 and younger.
Older adults may account for the higher fatality rate because they're less likely to recover from their injuries, partly owing to frailty, disability and chronic illness. Poorer vision and declining mental function and physical ability (such as taking a longer time to cross the street) also put older adults at increased risk of being struck by a vehicle.
The CDC recommends that local governments install more speed bumps, enforce traffic laws and create walking safety zones. But you don't have to wait for your town to act; there are steps you can take now to stay safe during a stroll:
- Cross the street only at designated crosswalks.
- Always walk facing traffic if there's no sidewalk.
- Be extra careful at intersections; check to make sure a driver isn't turning the corner as you step off the curb.
- Carry a flashlight in the evenings and wear reflective clothing or gear so motorists can see you better.
Source: MMWR, 4/19/13; Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50