In New York City, the streets are dangerous. If you are young and have all your faculties, sometimes you forget how important it is to be able to sprint or hop at the last second to dodge a speeding car or step out of the way of a bicycle. These feats of agility are not always an option to many seniors, and as a result, they are most at risk for getting killed on the streets. A study released by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign revealed that people over 60 years old are disproportionately at risk of being killed in collisions with vehicles while walking.
The key findings by the report paint clearly how in danger seniors are when they go out walking:3
- 413 older pedestrians (60 years and older) have been killed in collisions with cars in our region from 2009 through 2011.
- Older pedestrians in the tri-state region represent 18.7 percent of the population, but account for 33.3 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.
- Older pedestrians in the tri-state region are more than 2.2 times as likely to be killed in a collision with a vehicle than those under 60.
- Almost 60 percent of older pedestrian fatalities occurred on arterial roads [the most dangerous roads].
For Brooklyn specifically, 51 seniors died in accidents between 2009-2011, tying us with Queens for the highest number of deaths in the Downstate area. More importantly, that boils down to a fatality rate of 4.05 per 100,000 seniors, making the area the 8th most dangerous spot for seniors in the entire Tri-State area. Read that again: out of every 100,000 seniors living in Brooklyn, more than four will die after being hit by a vehicle. That could be your grandma, your grandpa, an aunt or uncle or a parent. Or you.
The good news here is that the number of seniors killed in collisions has actually decreased since the last study was conducted, covering the years 2006-2008. Brooklyn was ranked the 4th most dangerous in that last study. Still, seniors are still getting killed at a disproportionate rate to the rest of the population.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign has suggested a number of general solutions to address the problem, such as installing more curb ramps, making sure cross-walks are well marked, increasing pedestrian crossing islands and installing pedestrian countdown clocks.
However the problem gets tackled, the number one thing everyone can do to reduce street fatalities is to drive responsibly and carefully, an otherwise obvious observation that Southern Brooklyn drivers can’t seem to wrap their heads around.