NYPD to Brooklyn Seniors: Stop Getting Killed by Motorists

Drivers keep killing seniors in southern Brooklyn and the NYPD’s response was to admonish seniors to be more careful crossing the street.

New York City seniors are disproportionately victimized by traffic violence. Does NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan think bright clothes are the answer?
NYC seniors are disproportionately victimized by traffic violence. Does NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan think bright clothing is the answer?

DNAinfo reports that as of September 9, eight of 15 pedestrians killed by drivers this year in the Brooklyn South command were age 65 or older.

To combat the trend, precincts in the area have distributed fliers and notices to residents giving tips to older pedestrians on how to navigate the streets safely.

The fliers suggest wearing “light or bright colored clothing so drivers will notice you,” waiting for a fresh walk signal to cross and treating driveways with the same caution before crossing as if they were roads.

Got that? NYPD says it’s up to seniors to avoid being struck by drivers even when on the sidewalk.

Streetsblog has tracked six crashes that claimed the lives of senior pedestrians so far this year in Brooklyn South. Three of the victims were age 90 and older. In at least four cases, the victim was reportedly proceeding with the right of way when she or he was hit. Three victims were hit by drivers making turns, and in two cases drivers struck the victims while backing up. This is consistent with city studies showing that motorist behavior is the primary factor in most crashes that injure pedestrians.

Of the six aforementioned crashes, only one victim was reportedly not following traffic rules: Iris Rhooms, age 91. NYPD told the press Rhooms was “outside of the crosswalk” when she was hit, but as usual police did not say how fast the driver was going or how the driver failed to see a 91-year-old woman crossing the street.

Enforcement of dangerous traffic violations in Brooklyn South, meanwhile, varies from precinct to precinct. In the 62nd, where a driver backed over 76-year-old Galina Shibayeva, local officers issued 147 speeding tickets and 312 failure to yield summonses through August. During that same time frame, officers in the 70th Precinct, where a FedEx driver hit 90-year-old Lubov Brodskaya in a crosswalk, issued 728 citations for failure to yield and 351 speeding summonses.

What’s happening this year in Brooklyn South is not unusual. Year after year, seniors in New York City suffer disproportionately from deadly traffic violence. According to a 2014 report from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, people in Brooklyn age 60 and older are killed by drivers at four times the rate of younger residents, and the fatality rate increases for Brooklynites age 75 and up.

To make streets safer for seniors, TSTC recommends investments in infrastructure, including clear crosswalk markings, longer crossing signals, and pedestrian islands — measures that, along with traffic enforcement, are proven to reduce traffic deaths and injuries. Fussing at 90 year olds who are already following traffic rules isn’t going to make a difference.


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In response to motorists fatally striking seniors in the Brooklyn South command, NYPD admonished seniors to be more careful when going outside. A recent fatality in the 70th Precinct is a prime example of how focusing on the behavior of victims is a wrongheaded and ineffective approach to street safety. One of the victims cited in last week’s DNAinfo […]