Although she was too young to go there, Allison Liao has had a major influence on PS 173 in Fresh Meadows.
Allison, 3, was killed last October in Flushing while crossing a street with her grandmother. Now her grief-stricken parents are working to prevent future tragedies from affecting other families.
On Friday, elected officials gathered at PS 173 to pledge with students, parents and staff for better safety in the streets. Allison’s mother, Amy Tam-Liao, and the PTA at PS 173, where the Liao’s son, Preston, is in kindergarten organized the event.
Throughout the day, parents visited classrooms to encourage school safety pledges and gave out glow-in-the-dark bracelets promoting the idea.
“It’s imperative to educate drivers and pedestrians, including our children, about safe behavior on the street and on the road,” Tam-Liao said. “We are gratified the PTA at our son’s school and the Department of Transportation are doing so much to prevent another tragedy and to protect our children because what happened to our 3-year-old daughter can happen to anybody.”
Too often, she added, “we hear on the news about another person struck by a vehicle. We need a culture change, and what better way to start than in the schools with our children?”
Borough President Melinda Katz took the pledge with state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) and Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows). Katz noted that she is working with the mayor on his Vision Zero initiative to eliminate pedestrian fatalities in the next 10 years.
The mayor’s plan includes harsher punishments on unlicensed drivers, reducing most city speed limits to 25 miles per hour and adding red-light cameras at 150 locations. In addition, a task force will produce a list of 50 corridors from around the city each year for traffic-calming measures.
Katz called the the number of children who have been victims of traffic fatalities in Queens “unacceptable” and said she will help identify dangerous sites in the borough for Vision Zero.
Allison Liao was crossing the intersection of Main Street and Cherry Avenue at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 when she was hit by an SUV. The driver remained at the corner scene and no criminal charges were filed.
Since then, her parents and several others who have lost their children to car accidents have organized Families for Safe Streets in conjunction with the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. Members want a speed limit of 20 miles an hour on residential streets, more speed cameras and to promote Vision Zero.
PTA 173 President Italia Augienello noted the irony of traffic safety at the school. Parents double-parking to let off or pick up their children has become a hazard and interferes with school buses.
“The current drop-off and pickup situation is an issue and we need to make sure that we raise awareness about driver and pedestrian safety to avoid future tragedies,” Augienello said.
Police got involved last month and quelled the situation temporarily.