Last month a 3-year-old girl was crossing Main Street in Flushing with her grandmother when she was fatally run over by an SUV driver. Although investigators determined that victim Allison Liao and her grandmother had the right-of-way, the unnamed motorist faces no criminal charges, an all-too-common fact of life in NYC. According to Streetsblog, traffic crashes are the leading cause of injury-related death for children in NYC, and a recent WNYC study found that an average of five children between the ages of 5 and 17 are struck by NYC drivers every day.
Today, Liao's devastated parents have written a powerful essay demanding that mayor-elect Bill de Blasio take immediate action to make New York's streets safer. One of de Blasio's campaign promises was a commitment to “Vision Zero,” which aims to reduce serious injuries and traffic fatalities to zero through safe street initiatives and better enforcement.
Parents Amy Tam and Hsi-Pei Liao say the city can't afford to wait until de Blasio becomes mayor in January and are urging him to "immediately begin to work toward this goal." In their op-ed this morning, they write:
So much of the debate about our streets in recent years has focused on bicycles, and whether the increase in the number of riders has somehow made driving and walking precarious. But bikes rarely, if ever, kill people. The bike debate is a massive distraction from the single biggest traffic problem we face: the threat of cars and trucks to pedestrians.
There were 274 traffic fatalities citywide in 2012, including 148 pedestrians killed by vehicles. While some people might think it’s unrealistic to try to drive this number down to zero, that’s not so. This is a morally necessary and achievable goal that every family in New York needs our mayor to pursue...
Statistics show that most crashes are caused by drivers who are breaking the law. The leading cause of fatal crashes is speeding, and the leading factor in crashes that cause injury is failure to yield to pedestrians.
Drivers routinely violate the laws on speeding and pedestrian right-of-way for a very simple reason: The NYPD does not prioritize their enforcement. To start, de Blasio must appoint a police commissioner who understands the urgent need to deter reckless driving, and who has a plan to do so.
Read the whole essay here on the Daily News website. It comes less than a week after an SUV driver killed a 9-year-old boy and injured three others in Fort Greene. In that case, at least, the NYPD's Collision Investigation Squad took the rare step of arresting the driver and charging him with criminally negligent homicide.
We reached out to a de Blasio spokesperson for comment, and we'll update if we hear back.