Last Thursday night, Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas in Queens, a well-known advocate for safer streets, became a victim of the very issue she has been fighting against. While crossing 78th Street near 35th Avenue in Jackson Heights, she was struck by a driver, resulting in a broken arm, bruises, and undoubtedly, a shaken belief in the safety of her community’s streets.
The driver, who was making a left turn, failed to yield, knocking González-Rojas to the ground. Although the driver was not speeding, which possibly prevented more severe injuries or fatal consequences, the accident raises significant concerns about visibility and road safety in urban intersections.
González-Rojas pointed out the poor visibility at the intersection, a problem exacerbated by the lack of effective daylighting—a method that improves visibility by keeping corners clear of parked cars. This incident underscores the critical need for such safety measures in urban planning and road design.
Her experience mirrors the tragic case of 7-year-old Dolma Naadhun, who was killed in a similar accident in Astoria. These incidents aren’t isolated but are indicative of a broader issue of pedestrian safety in New York City.
Legal Implications and Advocacy
From a legal standpoint, the driver’s failure to yield is a clear violation, warranting a summons. However, legal action in such cases is often just a small part of the solution. The broader issue lies in addressing systemic safety concerns in our city’s infrastructure.
González-Rojas’s advocacy for Sammy’s Law, which seeks to allow New York City to set lower speed limits, is more relevant than ever. This law could be a significant step towards reducing the frequency and severity of pedestrian accidents.
The rise in serious traffic injuries in New York City, despite a drop in pedestrian deaths, signals a need for urgent action. We must push for comprehensive and enforceable measures that ensure the safety of all road users, especially the most vulnerable—pedestrians.
As pedestrian accident lawyers, our role involves advocating for systemic changes to prevent such accidents from occurring in the first place. González-Rojas’s accident is a call to action for all of us—lawyers, lawmakers, and citizens—to work towards building safer streets.