We’ve written a lot about car safety for senior drivers after losing eyesight, motor skills, or mental capacity. But a recent Los Angeles Times report notes that seniors are also in danger of traffic accidents outside their cars. In fact, according to last month’s “Dangerous By Design” study of traffic deaths between 2000 and 2009, seniors comprised a disproportionate 22 percent of pedestrian deaths, while making up 13 percent of the population. This morning, a group of San Francisco seniors plan to bring attention to senior pedestrian accidents with a streets safety event aptly named “DeathRace 2011.”
DeathRace will take place this morning at the corner of Third and Yosemite streets at 10:30 in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood. The Senior Action Network chose this location because it is near one of the city’s popular senior centers and is known for speeding motorists and dangerous crosswalks. The protest has perfect timing. Last month, for example, more than 50 seniors were injured in pedestrian accidents, and 16 were hospitalized or killed. Over the past decade, San Francisco seniors mourned a fatality rate of 8.1 seniors per 100,000, nearly three times the national average for seniors (2.92) and overall pedestrian deaths in San Francisco (2.9).
Dangerous By Design fingered San Francisco as the country’s 4th most dangerous in terms of pedestrian deaths. And San Francisco ranks as the most dangerous in California.
“Streets are no longer primarily for moving traffic as quickly as possible,” said Noah Budnick, deputy director of the New York based Transportation Alternatives. “Our streets are where we live in this city, and walking is the primary mode of how people get around. But older people simply don’t have enough time to cross the street.” The same is true here in San Francisco, and DeathRace plans to emphasize that officials should plan city streets in terms of pedestrian safety for all ages.
We’ve seen far too many San Francisco pedestrian deaths in the early months of 2011. I hope the Senior Action Network’s DeathRace 2011 will bring much needed attention reducing pedestrian deaths for all ages, including seniors.
Photo credit: Ethan Prater
UPDATE: Here’s The Bay Citizen’s report following yesterday’s Deathrace. Complete with this video: