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Downstate pedestrians 60 and older more likely to die from being struck by cars, says study

Crossing in the middle of the block, this

Crossing in the middle of the block, this pedestrian makes his way across Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square without the aid of a designated crosswalk on Jan. 11, 2012. Credit: Newsday/ John Paraskevas

Downstate New York pedestrians 60 and older are at greater risk of dying from being struck in motor vehicle accidents than their younger counterparts, according to a new study that tracked outcomes of crashes over 10 years.

The study found Manhattan streets were the most perilous locations for older pedestrians in all 12 of the downstate counties reviewed. Nassau County ranked second and Suffolk ranked eighth.

"In 10 years, the share of downstate New York residents 60 and older increased from 16.6 percent of the population to 18.8 percent -- 2.2 percentage points," said Renata Silberblatt, senior analyst for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit organization that conducted the study.

"As our population ages, it is imperative for municipalities and state officials to design communities with the needs of active older residents in mind."

State Department of Transportation officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The study, "Older Pedestrians at Risk: A Ten Year Survey and Look Ahead," said that from 2003 through 2012, 916 pedestrians 60 years and older were killed on downstate New York roads, a full 38 percent of pedestrian fatalities, though the group comprises only 17.5 percent of the area's population.

In Manhattan, the study showed that in 42.5 percent of the borough's 364 pedestrian fatalities, the victims were older than 60.

Manhattan also had the highest number of such fatalities of the 41 counties in the tri-state area, which includes New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

But while Manhattan had a rate of 5.46 such fatalities among older pedestrians per 100,000 residents over the 2003 to 2012 period studied, Nassau ranked second of the downstate counties, with a rate of 5.17 such deaths per 100,000 residents, and Suffolk ranked eighth with 2.99 per 100,000. There were 155 deaths in Manhattan, 142 in Nassau, and 81 in Suffolk.

Silberblatt made her findings using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Encyclopedia and the U.S. Census Bureau, Tri-State said.

The group made recommendations based on the study.

They include asking the state DOT to expand the SafeSeniors program piloted on Long Island, improving safety near transit stops, and lowering speed limits in commercial and residential districts.

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