Children, elderly face increased risk for pedestrian accidents in Iowa

Understanding the risks facing young and older pedestrians is key to knowing how to prevent a tragic accident.

Law enforcement officers recently launched an investigation into an incident in early November in which an Iowa man was killed while crossing the street. According to the Journal-News, the 73-year-old was not in a crosswalk when a vehicle struck him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Unfortunately, the elderly are at an increased risk of getting into a pedestrian accident, as are children. Understanding the dangers involved is part of the solution to preventing the incidents from occurring.

By the numbers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that of the 4,743 pedestrians who were killed as a result of a car accident in 2012, 20 percent of them were 65 or older. The same year, data shows that of the children ages 5 to 15 killed in traffic crashes, more than one of every five were pedestrians.

Children and accident prevention

According to the CDC, a child's small size will put him or her at a greater risk for suffering a serious injury. Further, children often lack the capacity to determine when there is a threat. They may not be able to tell if they have enough time to safely cross a road, or they may not understand traffic rules.

Safe Kids Worldwide offers the following safety tips for children who are pedestrians:

  • Children younger than 10 should not cross a street unless accompanied by an adult.
  • Kids should learn to cross the street without having the distraction of a cellphone, headphones or other device.
  • Teach kids to look left, right and then left again before walking across a street.
  • Children should learn to use sidewalks and crosswalks when possible and walk facing traffic when safe paths are not available.

Though every child is different, it is important to recognize that most children younger than 10 are not developmentally ready to cross the road on their own.

Elderly and accident prevention

A study published in the National Institutes of Health found that the highest mortality rate of any group involved in pedestrian accidents belongs to the elderly. As people age, their bodies lose the ability to recover from serious injury.

Experts suggest that elderly pedestrians wear brightly colored clothing in order to make themselves more visible. Motorists should keep in mind that older people tend to move slower, so they may need to give these pedestrians more time to cross the road. Lastly, the elderly are advised not to walk alone as it can also increase visibility.

In the event an accident does occur, Iowa law permits victims or their families to seek compensation from the responsible party. Anyone with questions regarding this matter should consult with an attorney.