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Oregon report sites fatality increase in older pedestrians

August 1, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Traffic-related fatalities of older pedestrians have increased in Oregon’s largest city, officials said.

People 65 years and older account for about 12% of the population of Portland, but make up more than one-quarter of pedestrian deaths since 2010, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Wednesday.

“Every traffic death is a tragedy, but it’s especially alarming to see so many older adults dying in crashes,” said Chris Warner, Portland’s transportation director.

Portland matched the 34-person traffic death toll of 2018 in less than seven months this year, the newspaper reported.

The majority of fatal crashes involving pedestrians occur when people legally walking in the street are hit by drivers, a city analysis said.

Among people aged 65 or older, 28 died in accidents when they were walking while 23 died driving or in a motor vehicle, according to figures compiled by the city since 2010.

Larger sports utility vehicles and speed limits could be contributing to the numbers, city officials said.

To help combat the increase, the speed limit on all of Portland’s residential streets and 121 miles (195 kilometers) of other streets was reduced to 20 mph (32 kph) earlier this year, officials said.

Portland unsuccessfully lobbied the state Legislature in 2019 to give the city broader authority to slow traffic on larger streets citywide, officials said.

“Our streets need to serve everyone, including people who are older and can no longer drive safely,” AARP community director Bandana Shrestha said.

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Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com

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