Increased pedestrian mortality among the elderly

David P. Sklar, Gerald B. Demarest, Patricia McFeeley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Elderly pedestrians struck by motor vehicles have the highest mortality rate of all pedestrian injury victims. One thousand eighty-two motor vehicle-pedestrian accidents occurring in a metropolitan area over a 5-year period were studied. Age-specific injury rates and fatality rates were evaluated with respect to the injury severity scores (ISS) for all fatally injured autopsied pedestrians. Of the 1,082 injuries, 131 fatalities occurred. Mean ISSs were found to be significantly higher for pedestrians dying at the scene of the accident (mean ISS, 54.83) and higher for those dying in the emergency department (mean ISS, 45.18), than for pedestrians who died in the hospital (mean ISS, 30.57) (P < .0001). The mortality rate for pedestrians aged ≥60 years was substantially higher than for those adults aged <60 years of age (P < .001). Elderly patients involved in accidents were much more likely to die than younger pedestrians (44.6% v 10.4%; P < .0001). Elderly pedestrians were significantly overrepresented in the group of pedestrians dying in the hospital compared with younger injury victims (52.5% v 21.5%; P < .008). This study shows that elderly pedestrians struck by motor vehicles die at a higher rate because they succumb to injuries in the hospital more frequently than younger pedestrians. This may reflect the greater susceptibility of the elderly to metabolic, surgical, and infectious complications after admission to the hospital. A decrease in mortality rates of elderly patients suffering pedestrian injuries will probably follow improved in-hospital intensive care services for the elderly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-390
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • geriatric
  • Injury
  • mortality
  • pedestrian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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