It’s ok to run over a child, as long as you’re in Clifton Park, NY…
Turf Trailer Park is located in Clifton Park NY. It’s a family community with many children and families who not only know one another, but watch each others children on a regular basis. Like many community trailer parks, Turf has speed bumps placed throughout and 10 mph postings on every road.
Also like many community parks, Turf has children…lots of them. Children playing, children biking, children running. Normally this park is relatively calm and safe for the children. In fact, the only real risk in Turf to the children, seems to be drivers.. specifically drivers who ignore the posted speed limit, the speed bumps and the stop signs.
Unfortunately, this past Saturday [August 3, 2013] the danger became real.
On the corner of Fern Ln and Halfmoon Cir [link to google satellite] in the middle of Turf, there is a park, and a school staffed by volunteers, that help kids with there homework, and families in need. Needless to say, there are almost ALWAYS a lot of children at or around this corner.
On this particular Saturday afternoon/evening a 4 year old blonde girl [name withheld] was walking with her sister and friends, when a car [drivers name withheld] came around the bend on Halfmoon Cir and ran over the 4 year old girl.
Now, here’s where things get interesting. Other children on the scene state the driver struck the child on the side of the road, possibly in the grass. They account the driver emerging from the car ]while the child was still under it!] and yelling at the small injured scared 4 year old in such a manor “what did you do???!!” to scold and scare her, instead of comfort her.
The driver, however, has a different account of events. She states the child was in the middle of the road and she “didn’t see her” and its “her fault”. Now, it may only be my opinion, but I live in a neighborhood with a lot of children and my road has the town pool and park on it.. I ALWAYS have children on my road. I always see them. The only way I could miss them is if i was drunk, or distracted [texting?].
The New York State police were called, and took statements. They issued no tickets. Nothing. Not for speed, distracted driving… in fact, they actually chastised the father of the girl, who had the day off and spent the day in his yard enjoying the weather and enjoying a drink, for drinking and being angry that his daughter got ran over. [mind you, the child was not “unsupervised” .. the mother was also home, and she was walking with her big sister and multiple friends in a trailer park approximately half a block from home.]
Here’s what I could find regarding laws involving pedestrian accidents and driver responsibility: [bold added by me to point out certain important points]
“Generally, people who operate automobiles must exercise “reasonable care under the circumstances.” Any failure to use reasonable care is considered negligence. A few of the most common factors contributing to driver negligence are:
- An inattentive or pre-occupied driver
- A driver’s failure to observe posted speed limits
- A driver’s failure to yield the right of way to pedestrians at marked cross walks
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals
- Failing to signal while turning
- Disregarding weather or traffic conditions
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Driver’s Special Duty of Care to Children
Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are at the greatest risk of being hit by a motor vehicle. Children are smaller and less visible and their conduct is unpredictable. The law imposes a higher duty of care on drivers when it comes to children. The very presence of children is a warning of danger to the driver to exercise greater care. Thus, a motor vehicle driver must exercise a greater degree of care when they know or should know that small children are at play in the immediate area. This is especially true when one is driving in the vicinity of a school and residential districts where children are known to play.”
Notice the second bullet? “failure to observe posted speed limits” Allegedly, this particular resident is commonly seen driving at excessive speed [in excess of the posted 10 mph] and has been [not so kindly] yelled to in the past to “SLOW DOWN” … as is the common practice in Turf, by parents trying to protect their children from just the type of activity I’m talking about here. I’m not even going to get into the “higher duty of care” for children, that should be common sense.
The New York State police’s reasoning behind no ticket? “There is only a stop sign on the perpendicular road intersecting [Fern Ln]. There is no stop signs on Halfmoon Cir.”
So that means I can mow down a small child, as long as I’m not proven to be speeding, the child doesn’t die, and there isn’t a stop sign?!? In my neighborhood this could become a new sport, drive near the pool/park, get about mid block.. and just aim… go slow, and as long as they don’t die it’ll be like Grand Theft Auto, Kids.
Here’s what i propose… [and I do not live in Turf, nor am I related to the child]
- Stop signs.. at ALL the “T” intersections.
- More and better speed bumps [the ones on that stretch are worn, and frankly.. useless.
- One of those “your speed” radar carts…[its proven accident and speeding goes down when these are present]
- a school zone sign on that intersection, as “Captian’s” is there, as well as the local kids park…lets enforce them like they would a public school.
- active, and caring police presence… not just the standard “cruise thru” they currently get, focused more on the “protect and serve” rather than the “incarcerate and interrogate”
- At the very minimal, restitution for any of the hospital expenses for this little girl. I’m sure a 4 year old girl didn’t ask to be run over.
We are in the process of trying to retrieve security camera footage that may have captured the accident. Hopefully it has something that can prove negligence and a ticket-able offence. In the meantime, if this article.. editorial even, can garner some attention from someone who can effect change and protect the children from people who choose to disregard simple safety rules my time wasn’t wasted.
I’ll leave you with some photos of the intersection in question….note that is is in no way a “busy street” and it should be easy to notice a small child walking with a group of other children.