Teen Speed Camera Advocate: All Streets of this City are Dangerous

Truth to power: Avery Dermer held a photo of her childhood friend Cooper Stock when she called on the mayor for more action on street safety. Photo: Julianne Cuba
Truth to power: Avery Dermer held a photo of her childhood friend Cooper Stock when she called on the mayor for more action on street safety. Photo: Julianne Cuba

Mayor de Blasio announced on Friday that hundreds of new speed cameras will be installed in the city over the next 12 months, bringing the total up to 750 school zone systems. It’s a great victory for street safety, but those 750 camera systems will still only cover a minuscule portion of New York City. We were reminded of that shortfall by the courageous words of Avery Dermer, whose childhood friend, Cooper Stock, was killed by a driver in 2014. Dermer spoke before the mayor at the Friday press conference and reminded everyone that the streets of de Blasio’s New York are still unsafe. Her brief speech was a clarion call for more action to rein in reckless drivers — and, as such, we are publishing it verbatim.

Cooper Stock. Photo: Barron Lerner via ##http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/24/treat-reckless-driving-like-drunk-driving/##New York Times##
Cooper Stock. Photo: Barron Lerner

My name is Avery Dermer and I am 16 years old. I was born and raised on the Upper West Side and live on West End Avenue. I am here today because of what happened when I was only 10 years old, a senseless tragedy that has affected my life, and so many other lives, since.

My neighbor and friend, Cooper Stock, was struck by a car while only a few steps away from returning home. He was only 9 years old when he died. It happened right in front of our building, where we loved to play and pretend to be doormen. I will forever remember Cooper as being a smiling and happy person, and it is upsetting how I used to look forward to how great it would be to have a friend so close, only one floor away, to grow up with.

I’m here today because Cooper is not. He never got the chance to become a teenager and develop into his own person.

I’m here today because no family should have to go through what Cooper’s family went through. After Cooper passed, I realized how dangerous West End Avenue — and all the streets of this city — are. All New York City kids deserve to be safe going to and from school. No child should have to worry if today will be their last. I pay attention to traffic safety as a pedestrian, but there is still so much that is out of my control. I have to trust the laws, and I have to trust that the citizens of New York will respect the speed limit, especially in school districts, in order to keep kids safe and alive.

When Cooper died, I lost trust in our city. I became very nervous walking the streets, even when I was in the company of my parents. Today, I’m still overly cautious because I have experienced the tragedy of Cooper’s loss.

It shouldn’t take knowing someone who died to realize how important street safety is, whether one is a pedestrian or a driver. Now by speaking up, by demanding changes like speed cameras across New York City, all of us are safer and all of us can finally gain back the trust we lost.

On behalf of kids across the city, on behalf of Cooper Stock and my classmates, on behalf of all of the victims of traffic accidents who were taken too young, on behalf of their families, and on behalf of all of the kids here at P.S. 199 who are no older than Cooper was, I want to thank Mayor de Blasio and everyone who fought and advocated on behalf of this new law. Thanks so much to everyone who succeeded in getting more speed cameras in New York City, and who are still helping us feel safer walking the streets of our city and our neighborhoods once again.

  • thomas040

    I’m all for it. Automatic enforcement of speeding and illegal parking. Cars are heavy machinery that requires a LOT of responsibility to be operated. Too many are being operated without the necessary level of responsible behavior.

  • Yes, and automated enforcement of gridlock would make this city much safer and livable.

  • Bob Lamm

    Great statement.

  • William Lawson

    It always astounds me how blasé society is about the fact that almost anyone can wield a deadly weapon which, with a quick push of a pedal and a flick of the wrist, could wipe out a dozen or more people in a matter of seconds. When I’m walking on the sidewalk and cars are speeding past, I’m always aware that I’m basically trusting these people not to move their steering wheels an inch or so. And we give this responsibility to virtually every nutjob and bozo in society via a license that’s handed out like candy. Result: 30,000+ deaths per year. Incredible.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve said it many times but it bears repeating. The idea that everyone can drive, along with setting up our built environment to practically require a driver’s license to economically participate, is one of the dumbest things we as a society have ever done. At least 75% of the population lacks the intelligence, coordination, spatial ability, sensory ability, or proper attitude to safely drive. In many cases people are deficient in more than one category.

    A driver’s license should start with an IQ test. Under maybe 125, no license. Then you start testing reflexes, coordination, hearing, and sight. Any deficiency in any of these, and again, no license. Finally, there should be a test of general temperament. If you’re overly prone to anger, no license. Assuming you get this far, then and only then does the actual driver training start. If you pass, you get a license. After 5 years you have to go through it all again. Over age 65 you have to go through everything annually. Probably 90+% of the population would be unable to even get a driver’s license. We as a society would be forced to provide alternate means of getting around. Employers could no longer relocate in the middle of nowhere on the assumption all their employees can drive. Ditto for building housing in the middle of nowhere.

    The scourge of universal driving needs to be ended as soon as possible.

  • Lisa Orman

    Thanks for your brave and eloquent advocacy. It’s so important for the city to hear from engaged young people.

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