Senior citizens – both drivers and pedestrians – are much more likely to be killed or seriously injured in traffic accidents than younger Canadians. The issue, which is of major concern to personal injury and car accident lawyers, can be linked to a variety of factors, including sub-par pedestrian infrastructure and cognitive decline.
In December 2016, following the death of an 81-year-old woman who was struck by a car in North York, the Toronto Star reported that individuals aged 65 and older accounted for roughly 60 per cent of all pedestrian deaths in Canada’s largest city. A provincial coroner’s report on pedestrian deaths, published in 2012, found that 36 per cent of all pedestrians killed in Ontario were seniors, even though they made up just 13 per cent of the population.
National data from Transport Canada shows that an average of 447 senior citizens per year died in serious car accidents from 2000 to 2015, the most of any age group. Individuals aged 25 to 34 accounted for an average of 379 fatalities per year, the second highest number.
The trend has worsened recently: seniors never accounted for the most traffic deaths in Canada between 2000 and 2007, but accounted for the most traffic deaths in seven of the eight years between 2008 and 2015.
Some traffic safety experts and car accident lawyers believe the trend may be related to Canada’s aging population. If this is the case, we can expect to see many more serious injuries and fatalities in the coming years as the Baby Boomers become senior citizens. As people age, it becomes more likely that serious injuries become fatal injuries.
However, precautionary measures to limit traffic fatalities among seniors can be taken at the state and personal levels. Many safety analysts believe that infrastructure improvements could diminish pedestrian deaths overall, and those involving seniors, in particular. For example, Marie Smith, the former president of the United Senior Citizens of Ontario, told the Star that increased crossing times could reduce injuries.
“The lights aren’t long enough for older people with walkers or even someone in a wheelchair,” she said. “Everybody’s in such a rush that nobody stops to be careful anymore.”
Other suggestions endorsed by safety analysts include reducing speed limits on residential and arterial roads and adding more mid-block pedestrian crossings.
Strategies to reduce injuries among senior drivers are less clear. Some road safety advocates have endorsed increased testing for seniors, while others believe children should initiate talks about ‘driving retirement’ with their elderly parents.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious traffic accident, contact the car accident lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to learn how we can help.
Image credit: gato-gato-gato/Flickr
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