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Streets can be made safer for senior citizens

Pedestrian accidents involving both pedestrians and a vehicle can happen with pedestrians of all ages. Yet, one of the most vulnerable groups of pedestrians is senior citizens. Among other factors, senior citizens may be move more slowly across a crosswalk and have insufficient reaction time when a vehicle approaches them. For those reasons, New York has established a pedestrian safety initiative that that is specifically for senior citizens.

The program is called Safe Streets for Seniors. It develops and then implements mitigation measures that are meant to improve the safety of senior citizens. Those measures are expected to improve the safety of younger pedestrians as well.

The Department of Transportation launched the program in 2008. It studies crash data and puts together a list of safety issues categorized into 25 Senior Pedestrian Focus Areas. The DOT has focused on data about accidents that resulted in severe injuries or fatalities.

The program may be working, given that senior pedestrian fatalities have decreased by 10%, with the 58 annual reported fatalities of 2008 being down to 52 annual reported fatalities in 2015. The program has included Street Improvement Projects. There have been 137 of those within Senior Areas in the city.

The DOT has expanded the program to new areas. They identified those areas using a methodology comparable to that used to identify the original areas, but with new variables as well. Those new variables included concentrations of senior centers, senior trip generators and senior housing locations.

Senior citizens will continue to be a vulnerable group for pedestrian accidents. Programs like this can help a lot, though drivers still need to exercise great care. Any senior citizen who is in a pedestrian accident should give an attorney all the details about it.

Source: New York City Department of Transportation, "Safe Streets for Seniors," accessed May 20, 2016

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