More than any other group, older pedestrians-that is, anyone 60 and above-have a greater chance of being injured or killed while walking on New Jersey streets. Much of this can be explained by the simple facts of aging: Reaction times slow as we age, hearing and eyesight become less acute, bones become more fragile and joints become less flexible.

According to an analysis by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, between 2009 and 2011, 137 pedestrians age 60 and older were killed in accidents on streets in this state. The age group constitutes around a fifth of the state’s entire population (19 percent) but made up almost a third (31.1 percent) of pedestrian fatalities.

Pedestrians are most likely to suffer serious injuries or be killed wherever there are multiple lanes, heavy traffic or poorly marked or nonexistent crosswalks. Pedestrians themselves must pay attention to and observe the rules of the road whenever they are out on foot.

Drivers should be extra careful and watch for anyone walking or running regardless of age. Any accident that results from negligence-which includes distracted driving, driving under the influence and failure to observe traffic rules and regulations-has civil and criminal consequences.

Both injuries and death from accidents can profoundly alter the lives of victims and family members, as well as the person responsible for the accident. The effects can be emotional, physical and financial.

For any pedestrian accident, gather the facts that led to the accident. Those facts may be needed by a victim or family member as they seek to recover damages to address the costs of medical treatment or to recover from the loss of a loved one. Before taking any legal action, however, determine whether a driver has been negligent. This will help a family in filing a wrongful death lawsuit if they choose that option.

Source: Morristown Green, “Crossing some streets in Morristown: A challenge for older pedestrians,” Linda Stamato, July 16, 2013