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C'mon, America, Drive Better: Part 1

Ellen Levitt

Posted on March 9, 2020 13:36

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A rash of recent pedestrian deaths in New York City has gotten me thinking about how dangerous our roads have become.

One day last week, I drove to the Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York. One reason was to pay homage to a young boy, Payson Lott, at the memorial set up for him after he was killed by a car. This had occurred at Pennsylvania and Blake Avenues. 

Payson has not been the only vehicular casualty in Brooklyn, nor in New York City as a whole, in recent weeks. An older man named Frank was also killed by a car while crossing a street in Bay Ridge.

I could go on, with a sad list of pedestrians, bikers, and skateboarders who have been killed by drivers in New York in the past year. This has impacted all New Yorkers but especially me, for a few reasons.

Both my brother and I had been struck by cars at different times, but we both came away with no serious physical injuries. Ben had been struck by a car when we were kids, running around in the street, and fortunately, he fell to the ground and only received scrapes and bruises. The woman driver got out of the car, looked at Ben and yelled, "You hit my car!" We kids yelled at her, but she got back into her car and sped away (it had Florida plates, I recall).

When I was six months pregnant with my older daughter, one midday in June 2000, I was going for food during my lunch break as a teacher at Murry Bergtraum High School in lower Manhattan. I saw a driver stop for me, so I stepped into the road. Suddenly he struck me at a slow speed, and I fell to the ground. I picked up my bracelet which had fallen off, stood up and screamed at the shocked driver, who did stop. Two students from the school had witnessed the incident and ran to me, sobbing hysterically. One was a sweet girl named Marley and she asked me if I was okay. I asked her and her friend to get some administrators to come out, and they did, with two Assistant Principals in tow. I ended up at a nearby hospital for observation but was okay. Whew.

But it's not just these past accidents. I teach driving instruction part-time and am known to be a stickler for rules and being demanding of students. I show them photos of car accidents (unfortunately, I have witnessed a few and seen the aftermaths of others, which I post to Instagram). I insist on explaining to them that they must be careful, be observant, and not be instruments of death and carnage. I'm not being cheeky when I state that.

There are many reasons why there are accidents, but driver carelessness and lack of care is a major factor. It angers me that so many drivers act blase about blowing through red lights and stop signs, or speeding and such. 

I'll address this more; and I implore all of you drivers to be more careful, more respectful, and CARE.

Ellen Levitt

Posted on March 9, 2020 13:36

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