The matter of pedestrian safety usually takes a back seat to other public policy issues, but AARP finds that it is a matter of great concern for older adults in Maine.

It’s no wonder older Mainers are concerned with their safety out on the roads. People age 65 and older make up 15 percent of Maine’s population, but across the state from 2003 to 2010, 35 percent of pedestrian fatalities were in that age group. As an older adult living in Maine, I do not want to become another number in the count of pedestrian fatalities.

A recent report from Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition, in collaboration with AARP, noted that “older adults face more risks as pedestrians because they may be less likely to react quickly to an oncoming vehicle” and they are “less likely to recover from a serious collision.”

The path to greater pedestrian safety is found at the local, state and federal levels.

Locally, people can document roads and crossings they find dangerous and insist that public officials respond. On the state level, officials can make sure pedestrian safety is built into a project from the start. Congress can help by passing the Safe Streets Act as part of the renewal of the federal transportation law, requiring all states and local planning organizations to adopt safe streets policies for federally funded projects within two years.

Let’s give pedestrian safety the visibility and strong support it deserves. Find out more at

Roberta Downey

Volunteer Executive Council, AARP Maine