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Pedestrian Accidents Deadliest for Elderly Males, Minorities, CDC Study Shows

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Posted on July 23, 2013

Elderly males and racial/ethnic minorities have higher traffic-related pedestrian death rates than whites and younger persons, results from a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study show.

The CDC analyzed 2001-2010 data from the National Vital Statistics System to determine traffic-related pedestrian death rates by sex, age group, race/ethnicity, and urbanization level.

During 2001—2010, out of a total of 47,392 pedestrians that died from traffic crashes,

  • 32,873 were males
  • 14,519 were females

Recent research has shown that on average, males and females walk similar distances, and although males have a slightly higher risk for being involved in a collision as a pedestrian, the observed differences have been found largely driver by a higher case-fatality rate among males than females.

Some researchers have speculated that males demonstrate riskier pedestrian behaviors or walk in more dangerous settings, but little research has explored the differences by sex in pedestrian death rates.

Among the key findings, the study found that age related declines in cognitive functioning, vision, and physical functioning might place older adult pedestrians at greater risk for being struck by a vehicle. For example, older adults take longer than young adults to cross roadways. Older adults take fewer walking trips and walk, on average, fewer miles per year than younger persons. However, when struck older adults are more likely than younger adults to die from their injuries. Higher prevalence of chronic disease, disability, and frailty among the elderly might contribute to these higher case-fatality rates.

The national study results released in April suggest that the pedestrian death rate could increase with the aging and growing diversity of the U.S. population. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the number of persons age 75 and older will more than double from approximately 18 million in 2011 to 44 million in 2040. Racial or ethnic minority populations are projected to increase from 116 million in 2010 to 186 million in 2040. The CDC concluded that strategies to prevent pedestrian deaths should include consideration of the needs of older adults and cultural differences among racial/ethnic populations.

Approximately three fourths of all pedestrian deaths in 2010 occurred in urban areas. Regardless of gender, those living in large central metro areas generally had the highest pedestrian death rates.

The age-adjusted traffic-related pedestrian death rate overall was 1.58 deaths per 100,000 population. Males had a two and a half times higher age-adjusted traffic-related pedestrian death rate than females. For males, death rates were highest among those aged 85 and older, followed by those aged 75-84. For females, death rates were highest among those aged 75-84, followed by those aged 85 and older.

  • Persons categorized as American Indian/Alaska Native [AI/AN] had the highest traffic-related pedestrian death rates among both males (7.73) and females (2.22).
  • Whites had the lowest pedestrian death rates for males and females (1.78 and .79, respectively).
  • For males, Hispanics and blacks had the next highest death rates (3.93 and 3.73, respectively).
  • For females, Asians/Pacific Islander had the second highest death rate (1.46), followed by blacks (1.31) and Hispanics (1.27).

Research findings are mixed regarding why certain racial/ethnic minorities have higher death rates. A 2006 report on U.S. traffic fatality data showed that higher percentages of AI/AN pedestrian and pedal cyclists who died in traffic crashes were intoxicated compared to other races or ethnicities. But other research has shown that increased risks remain even after controlling for lower socioeconomic status, increased exposure to traffic, and increased use of alcohol. The CDC concluded that additional research is needed to understand the factors that place certain racial/ethnic populations at increased risk.

Study especially alarming for Florida drivers

CNN news report last summer ranked Florida as one of the top five states with the most recorded pedestrian deaths. Florida had 487 deaths recorded. The only state that ranked higher was California with 599 deaths.

The other three states were:

  • Texas (345)
  • New York (303)
  • Arizona (146)

Pedestrian traffic regulations are laid out in Florida Statutes, section 316.130. If you or someone you know has been injured in a pedestrian traffic accident due to a negligent driver, please contact us.

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