AAA: Senior pedestrian deaths up 95 percent in Virginia in 2019

Thirty-seven Virginia seniors died in pedestrian accidents in 2019, nearly double the number of similar-type deaths in 2018.

The top season why, according to an analysis conducted by AAA of numbers from the Virginia DMV: not crossing the street at an intersection.

This was the cause of death last week of 91-year-old Hollywood actor Orson Bean, who was struck and killed as he attempted to cross Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles.

“The huge increase in senior pedestrian fatalities in Virginia is alarming. AAA reminds all seniors to cross either at intersections or clearly marked cross walks, attempt to signal drivers or make eye contact with them before stepping onto the roadway, and to wear visible clothing when walking,” said Morgan Dean, a senior specialist in public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Senior pedestrian fatalities were more likely to occur in densely populated areas with 76 percent of victims in 2019 killed on urban roads. Fairfax County (6) had the highest number of senior pedestrian deaths last year.

Henrico County (4) and Arlington County (3) were number two and three on the list.

The most common times for seniors to be struck were sunset (6-9 p.m.) and sunrise (6-9 a.m.), when it can be more difficult for both drivers and senior pedestrians to see due to poor lighting or the angle of the sun.

Nearly nine out of 10 victims (84 percent) were within five miles of their homes when they were hit and killed.

“Pedestrians hit by 4,000-pound vehicles are obviously at great risk of injury or death, but seniors are even more likely to be seriously injured or killed as bodies become more frail and lose muscle mass and bone density as they age, making then more fragile over all,” Dean said.

This increase in Virginia with seniors comes just a year after one of the deadliest years in the U.S. in decades for pedestrians. According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), more than 6,200 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes on U.S. roads in 2018.  That’s the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1990.

AAA tips for being safe while walking on the roads:

  • Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing to make yourself more visible to drivers.
  • Use a flashlight to make you more visible to vehicles in the dark.
  • Cross at controlled crosswalks with flashing warning lights.
  • If there isn’t an intersection or crosswalk, cross the road in a well-lit area.

Don’t assume a driver sees you.  Signal them and make eye contact with them before you step off the curb.

DMV released the video “Eyes Meet to Cross Streets” to show how pedestrians can share the responsibility of making sure they are safe.

Preliminary numbers from DMV also show that there were 133 fatalities involving senior drivers in 2019.  That’s a 6 percent increase from a year earlier. Eighty-four percent of those deadly crashes were on non-interstate roads. Forty-three percent of the crashes involved only a single vehicle. One-third of the victims (34%) were not wearing their seat belts.



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