New Report Finds Older Connecticut Pedestrians at Risk
Analysis shows people aged 65 years and older suffer disproportionately high pedestrian fatality rates
Older pedestrians are far more likely to be killed while walking than their younger neighbors, according to a new study by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. This is especially true in Connecticut where fatality rates for older pedestrians are far higher than in the rest of the country.
Between 2005 and 2007, 31 pedestrians aged 65 years and older were killed on Connecticut roads. Though comprising just over 12 percent of the state’s population, people aged 65 and older accounted for more than 25 percent of the total pedestrian fatalities during the three-year period. Those aged 75 years and older represent just 6.5 percent of the Connecticut’s population, but nearly 19 percent of pedestrian deaths.
“Pedestrian fatality rates for those aged 65 years and older are significantly higher than for the population as a whole,” said Michael Benediktsson, a Princeton University doctoral candidate in sociology who co-authored the study with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
Nationwide, pedestrian collisions are the 5th leading cause of accidental death for people aged 65 and older. And pedestrian fatality rates for older Americans are more than 70 percent higher than for those under 65 years.
But the disparities in Connecticut are even greater, with pedestrian fatality rates for people 65 years and older almost 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.
“Clearly, older Connecticut residents are suffering disproportionately,” said Maury Johnson of the Connecticut AARP. “As the population ages, we have to address this problem so that fewer older pedestrians die on our roadways.”
The Campaign’s analysis found that Bristol was the most dangerous place in Connecticut for older people to walk, as measured by the percentage of pedestrian fatalities who were 65 years and older. Stamford, Waterbury, and Bridgeport were ranked close behind. The table below provides details for those places.
The Campaign recommended new and expanded efforts to improve safety for seniors. One example is the New York City Department of Transportation Safe Streets for Seniors program which has identified 25 neighborhoods across the city needing pedestrian safety improvements for older residents. NYCDOT engineers identify areas with high numbers of older pedestrian fatalities and make improvements such as extending pedestrian crossing times at crosswalks and shortening crossing distances, altering curbs and sidewalks, restricting vehicle turns, and narrowing roadways.
“Transportation departments in the region should improve senior safety with programs that target resources to specific locations where seniors face the greatest risk. Such efforts are especially needed on Long Island and in Connecticut where walking seniors face very dangerous conditions,” said Kate Slevin, the Campaign’s executive director.
Benediktsson and Tri-State staff analyst Michelle Ernst conducted the Campaign’s analysis. The two used recently released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the U.S. Bureau of the Census to examine fatality rates by age and gender for each county in New Jersey, downstate New York and Connecticut.
County fact sheets showing pedestrian fatality rates by age and gender, as well as other statistics are also available at www.tstc.org/reports.html
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a non-profit organization working toward a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.