Saturday, 16 July 2011

Senior Pedestrians at High Risk of Accidents in California

Elderly pedestrians in California and around the country are at a much higher risk of pedestrian accidents than young pedestrians. Part of the reason for this has been poor road planning and design, which has failed to take into account the special needs of seniors. For instance, elderly pedestrians take more time to walk across crosswalks that were designed for younger pedestrians. Also these pedestrians are using streets that were mainly designed for automobiles.

Most of our streets were designed decades ago when pedestrian safety concerns were not a priority. There were fewer pedestrians compared to cars then, and roads were designed for the safety of motorists. Flash forward to 2011, and there are approximately 17 million people who will turn 65 this year. Not only are there more seniors now, but these persons are living healthy, productive and independent lives. Many seniors prefer to walk for exercise because it's convenient and inexpensive. Additionally, many older citizens live in cities that have easy access to healthcare facilities. But for many senior pedestrians, the simple act of walking often becomes a life-or-death struggle.

It's about to get worse. Transportation safety groups around the country and Los Angeles car accident lawyers are already warning about an explosion in the number of pedestrian accident fatalities involving seniors over the next few years unless we take action quickly. According to estimates, by the year 2030, elders will account for close to 20% of the nation's population. Those are huge numbers, and our streets are simply not designed for the safety needs of these people.

The federal government must launch pedestrian safety initiatives aimed specifically at the senior population. Further, any new street plans and modifications should take senior pedestrian concerns into account before road designs are implemented.

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