PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release
May 19, 2010

Contact
Zoe Baldwin
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
(212) 268-7474, (609) 271-0778

New Report Finds Older New Jersey Pedestrians at Risk

Analysis shows people aged 60 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 New Jersey where fatality rates for older pedestrians are far higher than in the rest of the country.

Between 2006 and 2008, 128 pedestrians aged 60 years and older were killed on New Jersey roads. Though comprising just 18 percent of the state’s population, people aged 60 and older accounted for 28 percent of the total pedestrian fatalities during the three-year period. Those aged 75 years and older represent just over 6.5 percent of the New Jersey’s population, but just under 14 percent of pedestrian deaths.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign urged state leaders to ensure spending levels for pedestrian safety programs are maintained in coming years.

“As New Jersey leaders reduce figure out how to deal with the state’s budget crisis, it’s clear that pedestrian safety programs cannot be sacrificed,” said Kate Slevin, Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s executive director. “With a modest investment, these programs save lives and help protect our more vulnerable residents.”

Nationwide, pedestrian collisions are the 5th leading cause of accidental death for people aged 60 and older. And pedestrian fatality rates for older Americans are more than 50 percent higher than for those under 60 years.

But the disparities in New Jersey are even greater, with pedestrian fatality rates for people 60 years and older nearly twice as high as the rate for those younger than 60 years. People 75 years and older suffer a fatality rate that is 2.4 times that of their younger neighbors.

“Older residents are suffering disproportionately, and as the population ages, it will get even worse,” said Zoe Baldwin, New Jersey Advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Infrastructure improvements that create balanced streets can ensure our communities remain safe and livable for older residents.”

The Campaign’s analysis found that Atlantic County was the most dangerous place in New Jersey for older people to walk. The table below provides the full ranking of all New Jersey counties. (Cape May, Cumberland, Hunterdon, Salem, Sussex, and Warren Counties were excluded because few pedestrian fatalities were recorded in those counties.)

Rank

County

Older (60+ yrs) Pedestrian Fatalities

(2006-2008)

Avg. Older Pedestrian Fatality Rate per 100,000 (2006-2008)

Avg. Overall Pedestrian Fatality Rate per 100,000 (2006-2008)

1

Atlantic County, NJ

7

4.67

2.88

2

Ocean County, NJ

20

4.64

1.43

3

Gloucester County, NJ

6

4.33

1.40

4

Camden County, NJ

11

4.12

1.87

5

Passaic County, NJ

10

4.10

1.88

6

Union County, NJ

10

3.65

1.85

7

Middlesex County, NJ

13

3.35

1.84

8

Hudson County, NJ

8

2.98

0.93

9

Essex County, NJ

10

2.64

1.96

10

Bergen County, NJ

12

2.21

1.18

11

Somerset County, NJ

3

1.85

1.12

12

Monmouth County, NJ

6

1.69

1.27

13

Burlington County, NJ

3

1.24

2.28

14

Morris County, NJ

3

1.12

1.34

15

Mercer County, NJ

2

1.09

1.21

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Jersey

121

3.57

1.49

*Fatality rates are calculated according to the population of the relevant age group (i.e., population aged 60 years and older, population under 60 years).

The Tri-State Transportation 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.

Tri-State Transportation Campaign staff analyst Michelle Ernst conducted the Campaign’s analysis using 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.

The full report, as well as county fact sheets and maps showing the locations of pedestrian fatalities throughout the region can be found at www.tstc.org.

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The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a non-profit organization working toward a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.