24-Hour Vigil Begins as TransAlt Releases Report on Increase in Child Traffic Deaths

Drivers Have Killed Nine Children in First Half of 2018, Matching Total Child Deaths for All of 2017
Joseph Cutrufo -
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Led by Families for Safe Streets founding member Amy Cohen, New Yorkers whose loved ones have been killed by reckless and speeding drivers are holding a 24-hour vigil outside the Bay Ridge office of Senator Marty Golden. The vigil, which began today at 9 a.m. and will end Friday at 9 a.m., coincides with the release of a report co-authored by Transportation Alternatives and City Council Member Justin Brannan which shows New York City drivers have killed at least nine children in traffic crashes less than six months into 2018, the same number of children killed by drivers in all of last year. 

With two child pedestrians killed earlier this week, New York City is now on pace to see twice as many child fatalities in 2018 as last year. On Monday,  four-year-old Luz Gonzalez lost her shoe on a sidewalk in Bushwick. Her mother ran back for it and bent to strap it on the little girl. Then, with her mother at her feet, a driver ran over Luz with a Nissan Rogue. Earlier that day, 17-year-old Madeline Sershen was crossing the street in front of her school, St. Francis Prep High School in Queens, when an elderly driver sped through a red light and crashed into her. Madeline was pronounced dead less than 30 minutes later. 

Lawmakers can and must do more to protect children on New York City's streets, especially where they should feel safest: on the sidewalk and in crosswalks in front of schools. But the city's proven school-based speed camera program will expire on July 25, at which point the 140 speed cameras currently protecting children outside their schools will be turned off. A bill which would renew and expand the speed camera program, S6046-C, is currently being held in committee by Senate Republicans who oppose the child-protection devices.

Key findings from the report:

  • An analysis of publicly available data and news sources found that, as of June 26, New York City has seen at least nine children aged 17 or younger killed in traffic crashes on New York City streets in 2018. Two-thirds of children killed by drivers so far this year were pedestrians.
  • New York City is currently on pace to see twice as many child fatalities in 2018 as last year, and the highest annual total since 2012, before the implementation of Vision Zero.
  • While overall traffic fatalities citywide have declined since Vision Zero was implemented, child traffic fatalities continue to grow year-over-year.

At the 24-hour vigil outside Senator Golden's office, Families for Safe Streets, anchored by founding member Amy Cohen, will honor their loved ones and the nine children killed by drivers this year in New York City, and demand action from the senator to renew and expand the city's school-based speed safety camera program. Expanding school zone speed safety cameras across New York City is the single most effective way to prevent child traffic deaths. That’s why 64 percent of New York voters, including 70 percent of seniors and 60 percent of car owners, strongly support more speed safety cameras near schools. In order to ensure the cameras continue doing their job, state Senate leaders and the governor must reconvene the Senate and vote on S6046-C.  

"We will not sit idly by while an elected official who himself has been caught speeding in school zones 10 times tries to deny us the tools that we know are making the streets safer for our children," Cohen said. "Senator Golden told us with a straight face that he supported expanding the speed safety camera program, only to turn around and suggest scrapping the cameras in favor of stop signs. He should be ashamed."

"This is a crisis. Children are dying, and once speed safety cameras are switched off, drivers are going to be emboldened to break the law and endanger our kids," said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. "One has to wonder, where does a person find it in themselves to publicly oppose a solution that has proven time and again to reduce speeding, prevent crashes and save lives?"

The report can be found here. More information on the 24-hour vigil:

WHAT:  a 24-hour vigil for speed safety cameras outside State Senator Marty Golden's office 

WHO:  Amy Cohen, founding member of Families for Safe Streets, Transportation Alternatives, City Council Member Justin Brannan, and community members

WHEN:  Thursday, June 28, 9 a.m. to Friday, June 29, 9 a.m.

WHERE:   Senator Marty Golden’s Bay Ridge office, 7408 5th Avenue (between Bay Ridge Parkway & 74th Street), Brooklyn

WHY:   To demand the Senate reconvene and guarantee a vote on S6046‑C, the bill to extend and expand New York City’s proven school-based speed camera program. In New York City school zones where speed cameras have been deployed, speeding dropped 63 percent and pedestrian injuries fell by 23 percent in the first two years. S6046-C would continue the program until 2022 and allow the City of New York to expand the program from 140 cameras to 290.