Older Pedestrians at Risk in the Region; Gov. Paterson Responds

Older tri-state residents bear a significantly higher risk of being killed as a pedestrian than do their younger neighbors, or their cohorts in the rest of the country, according to a new analysis released today by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. (See TSTC fact sheets and downstate NY, NJ, and Conn. press releases.)

Between 2005 and 2007, 407 pedestrians aged 65 years and older were killed on the tri-state region’s roads. People aged 65 years and older made up 12 percent of the region’s population but accounted for 27 percent of the total pedestrian fatalities during the three-year period. Those aged 75 years and older represent just 6 percent of the region’s population, but more than 17 percent of pedestrian deaths.

“Clearly, older tri-state residents are suffering disproportionately,” said William Stoner of the New York AARP. “Making our streets safe and livable to accommodate our aging population will require taking a close look at the infrastructure of our communities.”

Nationwide, pedestrian collision is the fifth-leading cause of accidental death for people aged 65 and older. Pedestrian fatality rates for older Americans are more than 70 percent higher than for those under 65 years of age.

But the disparities in the tri-state region are even greater, with pedestrian fatality rates for people 65 years and older more than three times the rate for those younger than 65 years. People 75 years and older suffer a fatality rate that is more than four times that of their younger neighbors.

While older Manhattan residents suffered the highest regional pedestrian fatality rates, the issue is clearly not just an urban one, as suburban Atlantic County (NJ) and Nassau County (NY) ranked a close second and third in the region. Staten Island was fourth.

NYSDOT Responds to Report, Announces SafeSeniors Program

Responding to the Campaign’s new analysis, New York Gov. David Paterson and NYSDOT Commissioner Astrid Glynn have just announced a new federally-funded program aimed at improving pedestrian safety for older New Yorkers. Modeled after NYCDOT’s forward-thinking Safe Streets for Seniors program, the statewide SafeSeniors program will employ techniques such as higher visibility pavement markings, longer intersection crossing times, countdown signals, better street lighting and pedestrian education programs to make it safer and easier for seniors to walk.

“Every New Yorker deserves to live in a safe community, and the implementation of these important safety initiatives throughout New York State will not only provide peace of mind to some of New York’s most vulnerable residents, but will make conditions on local roads safer for all pedestrians,” said Governor Paterson.

Nassau County’s Hempstead Turnpike and Route 25/25A in Suffolk County have been selected by NYSDOT as pilot locations for the SafeSeniors program. MTR readers will remember that these roads were identified by the Campaign in October as the state’s most- and 13th-most-dangerous roads for pedestrians.

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