PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release:
June 7, 2011

Contact:
Matthew Norris
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
212-268-7474

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 2007 and 2009, 129 pedestrians aged 60 years and older were killed on New Jersey roads.  Though comprising just 18.4 percent of the state’s population, people aged 60 and older accounted for nearly 29 percent of the total pedestrian fatalities during the three-year period.  Those aged 75 years and older represent 6.5 percent of the New Jersey’s population, but 12.3 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. In 2006, New Jersey announced a five-year effort to boost investment in pedestrian safety. But some programs which were part of that effort, such as a Safe Routes to Transit program, have been threatened with cuts.

“Older residents are safer today because New Jersey has worked to protect pedestrians in prior years,” said Kate Slevin, Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s executive director. “By renewing its commitment to pedestrian safety, the state can save more lives and protect vulnerable residents.

"AARP is deeply committed to roadway safety improvements," said Blenda Riddick, Advocacy Associate State Director for AARP New Jersey. "Older New Jerseyans and citizens living with mobility difficulties such as those who rely on wheelchairs, walkers or canes can be especially at risk when it comes to pedestrian safety. This report clearly highlights the need for Complete Streets legislation and will go a long way toward raising awareness about this important issue."

Since the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s previous senior pedestrian fatality report (which looked at pedestrian fatalities from 2006-2008), pedestrian fatality rates for New Jersey residents over 60 increased, but fatality rates for residents over 75 decreased.

Older New Jerseyans are still more likely than younger residents to be fatally injured in a traffic collision. NJ pedestrian fatality rates for people 60 years and older are 1.9 times as high as the rate for those younger than 60 years. People 75 years and older suffer a fatality rate that is 2.19 times that of their younger neighbors. This is higher than older pedestrian fatality rates in the rest of the United States: Nationwide, pedestrian fatality rates for older Americans are more than 1.5 times higher than for those under 60 years.

“Older residents are at greater risk,” said Matthew Norris, South Jersey Advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. "As the state’s population ages, it’s important that we build and retrofit our roads so they are safe for people of all ages and abilities."

"An ever greater number of seniors in New Jersey are looking to live in communities where they can walk to shops and restaurants or visit friends and family without having to drive,” said John Hall, AARP Salem County Coordinator and Woodstown Borough Council member. “Unfortunately, the lack of safe and convenient pedestrian infrastructure on many Garden State roads is putting these seniors' lives at risk. With a fatality rate for pedestrians aged 60 years or more that is nearly two times higher than for those under 60, making our roads safer for walking is an issue of priority for AARP New Jersey."

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 based on older pedestrian fatality rate. 

Rank

County

Older (60+ yrs) Pedestrian Fatalities

(2007-2009)

Avg. Older Pedestrian Fatality Rate per 100,000 (2007-2009)

Avg. Total Pedestrian Fatality Rate per 100,000 (2007-2009)

1

Atlantic County, NJ

8

5.07

3.57

2

Camden County, NJ

12

4.46

2.32

3

Essex County, NJ

14

3.73

2.17

4

Hudson County, NJ

10

3.73

1.63

5

Union County, NJ

10

3.68

2.42

6

Ocean County, NJ

15

3.24

2.16

7

Gloucester County, NJ

4

2.79

1.5

8

Mercer County, NJ

5

2.66

1.37

9

Middlesex County, NJ

10

2.53

1.87

10

Passaic County, NJ

6

2.42

1.84

11

Bergen County, NJ

13

2.38

1.27

12

Monmouth County, NJ

8

2.24

1.45

13

Burlington County, NJ

4

1.61

2.24

14

Warren County, NJ

1

1.60

1.22

15

Morris County, NJ

4

1.46

.75

16

Sussex County, NJ

1

1.39

.22

17

Somerset County, NJ

2

1.23

.93

17

Cumberland County, NJ

1

1.23

0.64

18

Cape May County, NJ

1

1.21

.69

19

Hunterdon County, NJ

0

0

1.54

20

Salem County, NJ

0

0

1.01

 

New Jersey

129

2.51

1.54

The Campaign also called on the state to fix its most dangerous roads for walking, including Black Horse Pike (US-322) and White Horse Pike (US-30) in Atlantic County, and Route 130 (Burlington Pike) in Burlington County.

“These roads are so wide and fast that a pro athlete would think twice before crossing. For someone who can’t cross as quickly, they can be downright impossible,” said Norris. “The state needs to take a close look at how these roads can be made safer.”

Tri-State Transportation Campaign 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.

###

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.