PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release:
June 7, 2011

Contact:
Nadine Lemmon, Renata Silberblatt
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
917-767-7698, 212-268-7474

Kristin Legere
AARP New York
518-447-6723

New Report Finds Older Downstate NY Pedestrians at Risk

Analysis shows people aged 60 years and older suffer disproportionately high pedestrian fatality rates; Complete Streets Bill would make New York State safer for all

 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 2007 and 2009, 271 pedestrians aged 60 years and older were killed on downstate New York roads.  Though comprising just under 18 percent of the area’s population, people aged 60 and older accounted for 39 percent of the total pedestrian fatalities during the three-year period.  Those aged 75 years and older represent 6.1 percent of downstate New York’s population, but 16.8 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-5411). Other programs and policies, such as expanded Safe Routes for Seniors programs, can also help reduce fatality rates.

“Complete Streets will save lives and allow older residents to stay active and independent in their own communities, even without a car,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

Downstate New York’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 New Yorkers are still more likely than younger residents to be fatally injured in a traffic collision. Downstate pedestrian fatality rates for people 60 years and older is more than 3 times the rate for those younger than 60 years.  People 75 years and older suffer a fatality rate that is 3.81 times that of their younger neighbors. This is considerably 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.

“These statistics are no less than startling for older New Yorkers who fall victim to pedestrian fatalities in disproportionate numbers,” said Lois Wagh Aronstein, AARP New York State Director.  "Baby boomers begin turning 65 this year, placing us at the start of an unprecedented growth in our aging population.  There is no better time to adopt Complete Streets legislation to ensure that roadways are designed so that all users can walk their streets safely.”

"It’s unbelievable that these deaths and injuries aren’t considered an emergency. To ignore the powerful findings of this report would be unfair to New York’s seniors. We’re all getting older, so the street that’s made safe for your grandma today will be safe for you tomorrow. All traffic deaths are preventable, and the recommendations in this report will help bring them down to zero,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s analysis found that Brooklyn 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 3rd in downstate New York, 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 based on average 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

Brooklyn, NY

69

5.52

1.96

2

Manhattan, NY

42

4.88

2.23

3

Nassau County, NY

39

4.67

2.14

4

Putnam County, NY

2

3.98

1.68

5

Queens, NY

44

3.54

1.57

6

Staten Island, NY

9

3.51

1.37

7

Bronx, NY

20

3.23

1.44

8

Westchester County, NY

16

2.91

.95

9

Suffolk County, NY

22

2.63

2.07

10

Dutchess County, NY

4

2.52

1.14

11

Orange County, NY

3

1.76

1.14

12

Rockland County, NY

1

.58

.78

 

All Downstate New York

271

3.87

1.74

*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 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.