A Brooklyn teenager lost his life Monday when a car struck him as he crossed the street to catch his school bus. Police said the 14-year-old boy had his eyes on the bus and his sweatshirt hood may have blocked his peripheral vision. Nicholas Soto never saw the BMW coming.
Authorities said the accident happened after the boy darted across Hicks Street and into oncoming traffic in Red Hook just before 7 a.m. The impact was so great, it launched the boy’s body over a fence and shattered the car’s windshield, according to Edward Austin, 54, who witnessed the tragedy.
Paramedics tried to revive Soto, who lived just two blocks from his bus stop, before transporting him to a local hospital with severe head trauma. He was pronounced dead soon thereafter.
“He came running through here, too busy, trying to catch the bus,” said Austin.
Police did not indicate whether the driver was speeding. While they concluded that the teen’s vision was likely obstructed by his sweatshirt hood, local residents said speeding is a major problem in the area.
Every year a dozen students are fatally struck by passing motorists while waiting at or crossing toward their bus stops, with the majority of accidents occurring in the dark predawn hours, according to STN’s independent research. In the past two years, more middle school and high school students have been killed around bus stops compared to elementary students, causing many to wonder if such distractions as cell phones and iPods are playing a role — making kids less aware of their surroundings.
While concerns about distracted driving are well publicized, now “distracted walking” is drawing attention as well. Earlier this week, AT&T announced a new traffic safety initiative to spur technological solutions to improve both traffic and pedestrian safety on New York City streets.
The initiative aims to utilize smartphone technology and wireless networks to make pedestrians, cyclists and motorists more aware of their surroundings and alert them to potential dangers. To launch the program, AT&T and NYC Media Lab released a paper drawing on research from across the nation that considers smartphone distraction and impediments to traffic safety: “Exploring How Mobile Technologies Impact Pedestrian Safety.”
The report cites recent statistics showing that New York City pedestrian fatalities in car crashes were four times greater than the national average.
Learn more about this safety initiative.