The last week in New York City put a tragic spotlight on the danger of large SUVs that impede driver visibility. As StreetsBlog and the New York Daily News reported, two 2-year-old New Yorkers were hit and killed by SUV drivers. Neither driver was charged.
On Friday, October 29th, a two-year-old named Autumn Garrison was walking on a Staten Island sidewalk with her mother. The two walked past the exit of a “Stop and Shop mini-mall” described by StreetBlog as spilling vehicles onto a frequently “busy sidewalk near a bus stop just east of the shopping center exit.” There, Garrison was reportedly walking eight feet behind her mother when a 69-year-old driving a Ford Explorer SUV drove out of the exit and hit her. StreetsBlog notes that even though drivers are required by law “to not drive over pedestrians on sidewalks,” a statement by the New York Police Department implied the driver was not at fault: “The 2-year-old female walked in front of the vehicle… The vehicle struck the child, knocked her to the sidewalk and subsequently drove over her.”
On Sunday, October 24th, in Queens, a two-year old named Leilani Rosales walked in front of her mother’s boyfriend’s Nissan Rogue SUV after leaving her mother’s side “for just an instant,” according to the Daily News. The driver was pulling away from the curb struck her, causing “severe head injuries” that resulted in her death.
As StreetsBlog notes, SUVs were involved in both deaths. The gargantuan vehicles have frequently been criticized for visibility impediments that can make it difficult for drivers to see people in front of them. Their “extreme weight, height and length” make them lethal to vulnerable road users. Not only are they more dangerous, but accidents involving SUVs are more likely to cause fatalities, given the vehicles’ heavy weight. New York City data showing that “roughly 25 percent of pedestrians killed in crashes between 2014 and 2016 were killed by SUV drivers,” per StreetsBlog. In the following three-year period, 2017 to 2019, that figure rose to 38%, causing the city’s Department of Transportation to pay special attention to SUV-related traffic violence. Meanwhile in the state legislature, Senator Andrew Gounardes has proposed legislation that would require car manufacturers to design crash test ratings that would measure a vehicle’s risk to people it might hit.