OIder Pedestrians at Risk in the Tri-State Region: NY/ NJ/ CT

Posted by Content Coordinator on Friday, August 22nd, 2014


The population of older adults is growing in the U.S. and in the tri-state region.

According to AARP, “one in three Americans is now 50 or older – by 2030, one out of every five people in the U.S. will be 65-plus”. Tri-State Transportation Campaign (TSTC) examined ten years of pedestrian fatality data focusing on older pedestrians. TSTC found that older pedestrians are at disproportionate risk of being killed in a collision with a car than younger pedestrians.

  • In the ten years from 2003 through 2012, 4,237 pedestrians were killed in Connecticut, New Jersey and Downstate New York. Of these, 1,492 pedestrians were aged 60 years and older.
  • Walking in the tri-state region is more dangerous for older pedestrians than walking in the rest of the country: the pedestrian fatality rate for people 60 and older living in Connecticut, New Jersey and downstate New York is 54.5 percent higher than for the rest of the country.
  • The population of older adults is increasing across the region and nationally.
  • Older tri-state pedestrians are over-represented in the region’s pedestrian fatalities: tri-state pedestrians aged 60 and older comprised 35 percent of the region’s pedestrian fatalities, but only 18 percent of its population.
  • The region’s older pedestrian average fatality rate was more than 2.5 times that of pedestrians under 60 years old, and pedestrians 75 years and older had an average fatality rate 3.4 times that of pedestrians under 60.
  • Simple roadway improvements can make streets safer for pedestrians of all ages and abilities as well as bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders.

Figure 1. Tri-State Average Pedestrian Fatality Rate by Age Group (2003-2012)

Why Are Older Pedestrians More at Risk?

TSTC’s analysis clearly shows that across the tri-state and in the U.S., pedestrians 60 and older are at higher risk of dying from a car collision than their younger neighbors.

Why is this? A larger proportion of older adults may choose not to drive or may be unable to drive than younger adults, leaving a great number of older adults reliant on walking and taking transit. Also, as AARP explains, “With advanced age, bone density declines, making serious injury or death more likely if one is hit by a car.[. . .] Falls among people 65 and older are an equally significant public health concern and cost more than $19 billion annually in total direct medical costs. Inadequate sidewalk maintenance increases older adults’ risk.”

Simple roadway improvements, such as clearly marked crosswalks, longer crossing signals and wider pedestrian islands can help older pedestrians cross the street. Well-maintained sidewalks also help older adults get around safely without a vehicle.

Download full version (PDF): Older Pedestrians at Risk

About the Tri-State Transportation Campaign 
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to reducing car dependency in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Leading environmental and planning organizations formed the Campaign in the early nineties as a response to the mounting economic and environmental costs of automobile and truck dependence and promising reforms in federal transportation policy.


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