Elderly Americans have many challenges to cope with as they age and as their health declines. One of those challenges is limited mobility. Older Americans may reach a point where their physical or mental state makes driving impossible and they may also come to a point where it is difficult to walk and get across streets.
Unfortunately, many of these older Americans will find themselves in a terrible spot because there is limited public transportation throughout much of the United States. Our Asheville accident attorneys know that Raleigh Durham, Chapel Hill and limited other places in North Carolina have good public transportation systems. But most areas in the state do not. The Aging in Place, Stuck Without Options rankings also affirm that more than 15.5 million Americans 65 and up live in communities with limited or no public transportation. Seniors in these communities face a tough choice: do they walk or try to drive and endanger themselves or do they become prisoners in their home with no place to go?
Elderly Residents at Risk of Auto Accidents & Pedestrian Accidents
Unfortunately, the dangers that elderly adults face throughout many parts of North Carolina are very real. The News Record, for example, indicates that the number of wrecks involving pedestrians and fatalities has risen recently. From 2011 to 2012, for instance, there were many more accidents and more pedestrians hit and killed. In fact:
- There were 561 accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles in 2011 and there were 561 in 2012. This is an 11 percent increase.
- There were 84 fatalities in crashes in 2011 and 98 fatalities in 2012. This is a 17 percent increase.
The News Record reports that it is unclear why there was such a large increase in 2012. There are no clear trends as to whether overall accident and death rates are on the rise since the number of accidents and deaths has seesawed from year-to-year. However, the data over the first few months of 2013 indicates that this year may also have a higher death toll.
While pedestrians can be any age, the elderly who are no longer able to get around in their cars and who have no public transportation available to them may be forced to try to walk more places if they want to get out of their homes. The elderly may also be slower at crossing the street and less equipped mentally or physically to keep themselves safe when walking. As such, the elderly may be at special risk of pedestrian crashes.
The elderly are also at greater risk of dying in a traffic accident. As reported by US News Health, an analysis of traffic accident fatalities that occurred form 2001 through 2010 revealed that those ages 75 and up had twice the chances of dying in a car wreck compared with those ages 34 and under.
Elderly adults, therefore, are at risk both when they walk and when they drive. It is important for the family members of aging relatives to consider these risks and to work with the senior to find a viable plan for getting around that minimizes the potential dangers of an accident occurring.
Contact our Asheville Personal Injury Lawyers at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. by calling 1.800.533.6845.
Improved Laws Would Mean Fewer Car Accidents in Carolinas, Jan. 30, 2013, Greenville Car Accident Lawyer Blog