More drivers age 65 and above died in Nassau and Suffolk crashes...

More drivers age 65 and above died in Nassau and Suffolk crashes last year than anywhere else across New York State, according to AAA. Credit: Howard Schnapp

More drivers 65 and older died in Nassau and Suffolk automobile crashes last year than anywhere else across New York State, which overall posted the most such collisions in nearly a decade, mirroring a national upward trend, according to an analysis by AAA Northeast.

There were 214 fatal crashes in 2022 among drivers at least 65 years old in New York, according to the AAA Northeast, which has 67 offices statewide and elsewhere in the Northeast region. The auto club said the number of drivers in the age group killed in 2022 crashes in the state was the most since 2013, when there were 230.

Culling data from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management Research, AAA Northeast found that in 2022, Suffolk topped the state with 26 fatal crashes involving seniors, followed by Nassau, which recorded 14, Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for the auto club, wrote in an email. He added that between 2013 and 2022, there were 212 such fatal crashes in Suffolk and 164 in Nassau.

However, Sinclair said both counties notched a lower percentage of senior drivers killed over the nine years than multiple counties in the state. Between 2013 and 2022, the percentage of Suffolk crashes that killed seniors was 17% and in Nassau was 22%. “Forty-five counties [in New York] had higher percentages than Nassau,” he said.

The Nassau and Suffolk police departments could not immediately provide data on fatal crashes by age group. Both departments declined to comment on AAA Northeast's findings released this week.

Among the contributing factors leading to the fatal crashes, failure to yield was number one, according to the auto club's report, followed by improper lane changes, unsafe speed, distracted driving and disregarding a traffic-controlled device.

Nationwide in 2021, the most recent year of federal data available, senior driver fatal crashes reached the highest point since 2000, according to AAA. In 2021, the auto club said, there were 8,209 fatalities involving drivers 65 and older across the country, noting such an increase was no surprise in light of the nation's increasing elderly population. The federal crash data is compiled separately from AAA Northeast.

According to a report by the Manhattan-based Center for an Urban Future, the number of people living in Nassau who were 65 and older climbed from 205,110 in 2011 to 256,703 in 2021; and in Suffolk, from 207,128 in 2011 to 269,205 a decade later. Nassau's estimated total population in 2021 was 1.38 million and Suffolk's 1.52 million.

Sinclair added that despite the upswing in fatal crashes, senior drivers “don't take risks like other drivers.” 

He cited research done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that found 16- to 17-year-old drivers to have the highest rates of crashes, followed by 18- to 19-year-olds. 

The auto club also suggested senior drivers shouldtake advantage of new technologies in vehicles that provide safety features, such as lane assistance and adaptive cruise control. The club also suggests senior drivers should monitor their health for conditions, such as eyesight problems or memory issues, that could negatively affect their ability to safely operate an automobile. The club also advocated wearing a seat belt, calling it “the best protection in the event of a crash.”

Bernard Macias, AARP New York Associate state director for Long Island, said in a statement: “As the proportion of older New Yorkers in the general population skyrockets with the aging of Baby Boomers, the number of older drivers is growing. The key factor in safe driving is not age, but ability. Everyone could benefit from refresher courses. AARP Driver Safety offers a variety of driver safety improvement resources, and we encourage drivers of all ages to look into them.”

More drivers 65 and older died in Nassau and Suffolk automobile crashes last year than anywhere else across New York State, which overall posted the most such collisions in nearly a decade, mirroring a national upward trend, according to an analysis by AAA Northeast.

There were 214 fatal crashes in 2022 among drivers at least 65 years old in New York, according to the AAA Northeast, which has 67 offices statewide and elsewhere in the Northeast region. The auto club said the number of drivers in the age group killed in 2022 crashes in the state was the most since 2013, when there were 230.

Culling data from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management Research, AAA Northeast found that in 2022, Suffolk topped the state with 26 fatal crashes involving seniors, followed by Nassau, which recorded 14, Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for the auto club, wrote in an email. He added that between 2013 and 2022, there were 212 such fatal crashes in Suffolk and 164 in Nassau.

However, Sinclair said both counties notched a lower percentage of senior drivers killed over the nine years than multiple counties in the state. Between 2013 and 2022, the percentage of Suffolk crashes that killed seniors was 17% and in Nassau was 22%. “Forty-five counties [in New York] had higher percentages than Nassau,” he said.

The Nassau and Suffolk police departments could not immediately provide data on fatal crashes by age group. Both departments declined to comment on AAA Northeast's findings released this week.

Among the contributing factors leading to the fatal crashes, failure to yield was number one, according to the auto club's report, followed by improper lane changes, unsafe speed, distracted driving and disregarding a traffic-controlled device.

Nationwide in 2021, the most recent year of federal data available, senior driver fatal crashes reached the highest point since 2000, according to AAA. In 2021, the auto club said, there were 8,209 fatalities involving drivers 65 and older across the country, noting such an increase was no surprise in light of the nation's increasing elderly population. The federal crash data is compiled separately from AAA Northeast.

According to a report by the Manhattan-based Center for an Urban Future, the number of people living in Nassau who were 65 and older climbed from 205,110 in 2011 to 256,703 in 2021; and in Suffolk, from 207,128 in 2011 to 269,205 a decade later. Nassau's estimated total population in 2021 was 1.38 million and Suffolk's 1.52 million.

Sinclair added that despite the upswing in fatal crashes, senior drivers “don't take risks like other drivers.” 

He cited research done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that found 16- to 17-year-old drivers to have the highest rates of crashes, followed by 18- to 19-year-olds. 

The auto club also suggested senior drivers shouldtake advantage of new technologies in vehicles that provide safety features, such as lane assistance and adaptive cruise control. The club also suggests senior drivers should monitor their health for conditions, such as eyesight problems or memory issues, that could negatively affect their ability to safely operate an automobile. The club also advocated wearing a seat belt, calling it “the best protection in the event of a crash.”

Bernard Macias, AARP New York Associate state director for Long Island, said in a statement: “As the proportion of older New Yorkers in the general population skyrockets with the aging of Baby Boomers, the number of older drivers is growing. The key factor in safe driving is not age, but ability. Everyone could benefit from refresher courses. AARP Driver Safety offers a variety of driver safety improvement resources, and we encourage drivers of all ages to look into them.”

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