PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release:
June 7, 2011

Contact:
Ryan Lynch
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
(860) 796-6988

New Report Finds Older Connecticut 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.   

Between 2007 and 2009, 33 pedestrians aged 60 years and older were killed on Connecticut roads.  Though comprising almost 19 percent of the state’s population, people aged 60 and older accounted for 35 percent of the total pedestrian fatalities during the three-year period.  Those aged 75 years and older represent just 6.9 percent of the Connecticut’s population, but 18 percent of pedestrian deaths. 

“These are sobering statistics that point to a need for greater investment in pedestrian safety,” said Kate Slevin, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s executive director.

Connecticut’s older pedestrian fatality rate decreased since the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s previous analysis (which was released in May 2010 and looked at pedestrian fatalities from 2006 to 2008). While this is an encouraging trend, older Connecticut residents are still more likely than younger residents to be fatally injured in a traffic collision.

Nationwide, pedestrian collisions are a leading cause of unintentional injury death for people aged 60 and older.  And pedestrian fatality rates for older Americans are more than 1.5 times higher than for those under 60 years.

But the disparities in Connecticut are even greater, with pedestrian fatality rates for people over 60 years higher than 2. 3 times the rate for those younger than 60 years.  People 75 years and older suffer a fatality rate that is more than 3.1 times that of their younger neighbors.

"We are deeply concerned that the fatality rate for Connecticut pedestrians aged 60 years or more is almost 2.5 times higher than for those under 60," Brenda Kelley, AARP Connecticut State Director stated. "Although our state is home to a large number of compact and walkable communities, all too often, senior pedestrians must travel along wide roads with high speed limits and few crosswalks. AARP strongly supports roadway safety improvements which will save lives and further enhance the livability of our communities."

The Campaign’s analysis found that Bridgeport was the most dangerous place in Connecticut for older people to walk, as measured by the percentage of pedestrian fatalities 60 years and older, and excluding cities with fewer than 3 total pedestrian fatalities during the period. Waterbury and Norwalk were ranked close behind.  The table below provides details for those places.

Rank

Place

Total Pedestrian Fatalities

(2007-2009)

Older (60+ yrs) Pedestrian Fatalities

(2007-2009)

Percent of Fatalities 60 Years and Older

1

Bridgeport

4

3

75%

2

Waterbury

6

4

66.7%

2

Norwalk

3

2

66.7%

3

Bristol

5

2

40%

 

Connecticut

94

33

35%

While the Campaign applauded recent efforts by ConnDOT to improve pedestrian safety, including making more funds available for pedestrian safety projects and recent efforts to make inexpensive, quick, targeted interventions, it also urged the agency to continue and expand on these measures.

For example, ConnDOT could designate at least 10% of certain federal transportation funds – such as the Highway Safety Improvement Program and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality – for programs that prevent traffic injuries and fatalities.

“ConnDOT has taken some good steps to make walking safer, but more will be needed as the state’s population continues to age,” said Ryan Lynch, Senior Planner for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “We need to build and retrofit our roads so they are safe for people of all ages and abilities.”

Tri-State staff analyst Renata Silberblatt 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 Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.