Home / Blog / Lack of Streetlights Likely Contributes to Senior Citizen Pedestrian Deaths

Last week, we wrote about 89-year-old Horace Rounds, who lay in a ditch
for a couple of hours after being hit by a car in the still-dark early
morning hours. He was crossing the street from Wal-Mart to his home at
the Bishop T. Garrott Benjamin Senior Living Center. Unfortunately, Lester
is not the only resident of the low-income apartments who has died crossing
Michigan Road. Three senior citizen pedestrian deaths have occurred in
the same poorly-lit roadway, and some say they never really had a chance.

Despite being a major and very busy thoroughfare through Indianapolis,
this and other areas of our city’s low-income neighborhoods remain
in the dark due to a 35-year policy
banning new city streetlights. As reported by IndyStar, this policy essentially created a situation
where wealthier neighborhoods and neighborhood association paid for their
own streetlights while less affluent residents were left with dark, unsafe
conditions. IndyStar’s analysis shows the result to be that more
than two-thirds of Marion County pedestrian deaths over a fifteen year
period have occurred in neighborhoods with the lowest average incomes.

Residents Fear Leaving for Errands or Exercise

Residents of the senior living complex express fear about walking out of
their complex for necessary, healthy activities like running errands or
to get exercise. Many of them use a wheelchair, as did 72-year-old Calvin
Bowie, who was killed crossing the street in 2014. Though there is a crosswalk,
it is nearly 1,000 feet away, creating difficulty for the residents who
have some mobility issues. James Carpenter, another senior citizen pedestrian
and resident of the center, was killed crossing the street in the same
area in 2011.

Since the streetlight policy came into play, the city’s population
has increased more than 25%. The thirty-year period has resulted in just
30,000 publicly-funded streetlights, with individuals, businesses, and
homeowners’ associations choosing to pay privately for another 21,000.
Some lower-income neighborhoods were able to win grant funding to cover
the installation of streetlights, but after grant funding for the ensuing
electric bills ran out, so did the light. Those streetlights now sit in
the dark in many areas.

It seems impossible to believe that some of our most vulnerable citizens
would be left without something as basic as streetlights. Safety itself
has become a pricey option available only to some, and this is unacceptable.
While the residents of the senior living center work with the city to
discuss the addition of streetlights or the lowering of the speed limit
in the area, more pedestrians are dying all across Indianapolis. If you
or someone you know has been injured in a senior citizen pedestrian accident
due to poor lighting or other factors, the pedestrian accident attorneys
at Wagner Reese can help. Call us today for a FREE consultation: (888) 204-8440.