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Older adults can experience unique safety concerns when walking

Almost everyone walks sometimes. You may walk when completing errands. You may walk for the exercise, or you may walk for recreation. However, walking can be dangerous.

Almost 6,000 pedestrians in the United States were killed in traffic crashes in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Many of those incidents were caused by reckless drivers. However, there are some actions you can take as a pedestrian to help you stay safe.

Some pedestrian safety concerns change with age

Some safety tips are beneficial for all pedestrians. For example, when you go on your next walk, consider:

  • Wearing bright colors during the day
  • Wearing reflective clothes at night
  • Obeying traffic signs and signals
  • Traveling on sidewalks and walking paths when possible

However, older pedestrians may begin to notice some age-related challenges when walking. To avoid being hit by a car, you may consider adopting some additional safety precautions.

Wear sturdy shoes

To maintain your health, it is important to avoid falling in general. However, slipping or tripping while crossing the street can be especially dangerous because you could fall in the path of vehicles. Consider wearing sturdy shoes when walking to avoid slipping or tripping. Running or walking shoes are often a good choice in footwear because they support your feet from side to side.

Turn your whole body

Stiff muscles and joints can make it difficult for you to turn your head to look for traffic. If you experience stiff muscles and joints, try to turn your whole body when looking for a break in traffic. Remember to look left, right and left again before beginning to cross the street.

Cross on a fresh walk signal

If you do not get around as quickly as you used to, you may benefit from waiting until a fresh walk signal before beginning to cross the street. If you are especially worried about a particular intersection, consider watching the light complete one light cycle to see how much time you will have to cross. Keep in mind that some streets may have an island, which can allow you to cross the street in phases.

Walking can be a healthy activity throughout your life. However, you may need to adjust your habits as you age to make sure you are as safe as possible when walking.