It was recently reported that a 7-year old New York boy remained hospitalized in critical condition in an induced coma after being hit by a car while chasing an ice cream truck. The boy’s stepfather said his wife had warned the boy not to chase the ice cream truck, but before she could stop him, the boy "opened the door and he was running."
This sad story highlights the need to watch young children carefully when they are playing outside or walking in the street. Young children just don’t have the judgment necessary to identify dangerous situations and act with appropriate caution.
However, even with the best of precautions, accidents happen. What is wrong is when the likelihood of an accident is increased by the negligence of others, including the municipality responsible for maintaining the safety of neighborhood streets. In the above story, neighbors of the child described the street where the boy was hit "as an accident waiting to happen." Apparently, the street is a narrow, mile-long stretch of two-lane pavement that connects two major thoroughfares on which motorists regularly exceeded the posted speed limit of 30 mph. Many in the neighborhood feared a child would be injured at some point due to these conditions. It is unclear whether the municipality was informed of this unsafe situation and what precautions it might have taken to address residents’ concerns.
For example, one April 2004 study entitled A Matched Case–Control Study Evaluating the Effectiveness of Speed Humps in Reducing Child Pedestrian Injuries and published in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that speed bumps increase the safety of neighborhood streets for children.
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