• Dadwagon on Facebook
  • Dadwagon on Twitter
  • Dadwagon RSS feed

Elle’s Law: Thou Shalt Not Kill

September 10th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  2 Comments

She almost died for a parking spacePavement Patty struck my procrastinatory interest in the incidences of fatal pedestrian and bike accidents in New York. Yes, it’s been only a few weeks since we reported on car-meets-person maulings in NYC. But there’s a new development. If you’ve been (safely) riding the subway lately, you may have seen some advertisements for it: Elle’s Law.

They are fairly arresting posters–one with a cute little blonde girl and the other with a kid’s bike under the wheels of a car. They have taglines like “She almost died for a parking space.”

This struck my wife and I as odd. What could Elle’s Law be? Something that makes it illegal to crush little girls while parking? Isn’t it already, you know, illegal?

Not necessarily. Turns out that Elle was a girl struck on the Upper East Side last year by some dude who was zooming in reverse to catch a parking space. Because he was sober and didn’t flee the scene, he wasn’t charged with anything. He was just given a traffic ticket and sent on his way, while Elle went into a coma and nearly died.

She recovered, but her case isn’t isolated. I should know: the woman who was distracted and killed my uncle last year in central New Jersey was given a $150 fine for reckless driving. No criminal charges, no suspended or revoked license. She probably drove herself home from the courthouse. Before his death, my uncle had been fined more than that for having dogs tied up outside in violation of township codes.

It turns out here in Gotham, the NYPD has been particularly bad about getting justice for people struck and killed by negligent drivers. Streetsblog.org has been doing a great job of covering the many injustices. In a piece about the July death of  Brooklyn mother of three (she was hit by an SUV that witnesses said sped through a red light; the driver faced no charges), Ben Fried wrote:

Nearly 300 New Yorkers are killed and more than 70,000 are injured by car collisions every year. Traffic is the number one risk of injury-related death for city children. And yet, we are served by a police force that, through its enforcement of traffic lawsoperation of its own motor vehicles, and investigations into automobile crashes, displays a habitual disregard for the lethal consequences of reckless and negligent driving.

It turns out laws like Elle’s Law (or the ever more tragically-inspired Diego and Hayley’s Law) is as much about reforming the cops as it is about reforming drivers. By allowing prosecutors to criminally charge sober drivers who are speeding or texting or shouting or otherwise reckless when they injure or kill people, those laws could save lives or at least bring some justice for the dead. So despite my otherwise libertarian aversion to lots of safety laws, I’ll say it: good for Elle’s Law.


  1. TimO says:

    September 11th, 2010at 12:40 am(#)

    What about vehicular manslaughter? That’s on the books in all but like 5 states.

  2. Nathan says:

    September 11th, 2010at 9:29 am(#)

    That’s a great question. I don’t know why they don’t apply it. Seems like prosecutors are looking for intent to kill with manslaughter charges, not just recklessness.

Leave a Response


Recent Comments

  • Dee: As one of the impressed moms there last night, and also because my kid ate 3 bowls of that bolognese, thanks for...
  • Drew Wallner via Facebook: I’m totally making this when we get back from holiday travel, I even just got a...
  • Matt: Whoops! Just put that back in. The recipe editor has been fired.
  • Ed Lilly: Looks great – thanks for posting! One question – you did not specify putting the meat back into...
  • Maks: I’m against baby yoga for sure, but want to say something regarding that author is a little wild about...

DadWagon Reads!


BRB, just going out to buy all the Brussels sprouts at Whole Foods...

The perfect treat for children you hate this Halloween


Halloween will be here soon, along with children knocking at your door demanding treats. Here's a brilliantly mean idea...

Today at 9:22am • No Comments


The Right Way to Swear in Front of Your Kids


Context, context, context.

Sep 19th 2:33pm • No Comments

I don't care. EAT IT ANYWAY, KID!

‘Five Second Rule’ for Food on Floor Is Untrue, Study Finds


Researchers concluded that no matter how fast you pick up food that falls on the floor, you will pick up bacteria with it.

Sep 19th 11:38am • No Comments


Why Danish Parents Like to Talk About Death


It's because it makes for happier kids, says new book.

Aug 11th 8:19am • No Comments