PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release
May 19, 2010

Contact
Nadine Lemmon, (917) 767-7698
Michelle Ernst, (212) 268-7474
Tri-State Transportation Campaign

New Report Finds Older Downstate 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 downstate New York where fatality rates for older pedestrians are far higher than in the rest of the country.

Between 2006 and 2008, 290 pedestrians aged 60 years and older were killed on downstate New York roads. Though comprising just over 17 percent of the area’s population, people aged 60 and older accounted for 42 percent of the total pedestrian fatalities during the three-year period. Those aged 75 years and older represent less than 6 percent of the downstate New York’s population, but nearly 20 percent of pedestrian deaths.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign urged state leaders to reduce high fatality rates by passing a statewide complete streets policy that ensures roads are designed to accommodate all users, including walkers, cyclists, and people of all ages. A bill that would mandate such a policy is pending in Albany (S-5711A). Other programs and policies, such as expanded Safe Routes for Seniors programs, can also help reduce fatality rates.

“Balanced, complete streets will reduce this tragic toll and ensure older residents remain active and independent even if they do not own a car,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

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 downstate New York are even greater, with pedestrian fatality rates for people 60 years and older 3.7 times the rate for those younger than 60 years. People 75 years and older suffer a fatality rate that is nearly five times that of their younger neighbors.

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

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s analysis found that Manhattan was the most dangerous place in downstate New York for older people to walk, likely a reflection of the higher walking rates there. But clearly the issue is not just an urban one. Nassau County ranked 3 rd in the region in per capita terms, while the city’s least dense borough, Staten Island, also ranked high on the list. The table below provides the full ranking of all downstate counties and boroughs. (Putnam and Rockland Counties were excluded because few pedestrian fatalities were recorded in those counties.)

“This report should be a real wake-up call to our rapidly aging city,” says Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “No other indicator shows the dangers on our streets more starkly than the number of fatalities among senior citizens struck will walking.”

Rank

County

Older (60+ yrs) Pedestrian Fatalities (2006-2008)

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

Avg. <60 yrs Pedestrian Fatality Rate per 100,000 (2006-2008)

1

Manhattan, NY

56

6.67

1.46

2

Brooklyn, NY

69

5.46

1.18

3

Nassau County, NY

39

4.69

1.33

4

Staten Island, NY

11

4.47

0.92

5

Orange County, NY

6

3.77

0.93

6

the Bronx, NY

22

3.69

0.96

7

Queens, NY

42

3.40

0.86

8

Suffolk County, NY

25

3.05

1.73

9

Westchester County, NY

14

2.53

0.52

10

Dutchess County, NY

4

2.51

0.28

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Downstate New York

290

4.19

1.13

*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).

Tri-State 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.