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Report Finds Older Westchester Pedestrians at Risk

Older Westchester pedestrians are more at risk of being hit by vehicles than younger pedestrians, according to a new study.
Older Westchester pedestrians are more at risk of being hit by vehicles than younger pedestrians, according to a new study. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Westchester County pedestrians 60 years and older are disproportionately at risk of being killed when struck by a car, according to a new study by Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

From 2009 through 2011, 246 pedestrians aged 60 years and older were killed on downstate New York roads, Tri-State’s annual report, "Older Pedestrians at Risk And How States Can Make it Safer and Easier for Older Residents to Walk," found.

Though comprising 18.2 percent of the downstate population, this age group accounted for 35 percent of the downstate pedestrian fatalities during the three-year period. Those aged 75 years and older represent 6.1 percent of downstate New York’s population, but 16.5 percent of pedestrian deaths. The pedestrian fatality rate for downstate New York residents 60 and older is 2.51 times higher than that of residents under 60. For residents 75 and older, the pedestrian fatality rate is 3.53 times that of those under 60.

Since Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s previous Older Pedestrians at Risk report, the pedestrian fatality rates decreased for pedestrians aged 60 years and older as well as for pedestrians 75 years and older.

Westchester County averaged 1.4 60-and-older pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people from 2009-2011, the study found. That was higher than the average 0.57 fatalities per 100,000 people among younger ages.

Tri-State's research showed that Putnam County had the highest average older pedestrian fatality rate of any county in downstate New York as well as the highest of the 41 counties in the tri-state region (Connecticut, New Jersey and downstate New York counties). Almost 38 percent of Putnam County’s eight pedestrian fatalities were pedestrians 60 or older.

“Older New Yorkers are increasingly taking public transit and walking to get around – they shouldn’t be taking their lives in their own hands when they do, however, the fatality rate for older pedestrians is higher than the rate for all other ages,” Beth Finkel, state director for AARP in New York State said in a statement. “With advanced age, bone density declines, making serious injury or death more likely if one is hit by a car. Inadequate sidewalk maintenance increases older adults’ risk. This report outlines the problems and the needed solutions and AARP is glad to be working with Tri-State Transportation Campaign to change this and keep our streets and sidewalks safe for all generations.”

The full report, as well as county fact sheets and maps showing the locations of pedestrian fatalities throughout the region can be found here .

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