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Driver Backs Up and Kills Pedestrian in Queens Yet is Not Charged

8:11 AM EDT on July 8, 2020

Richard O’Flaherty was killed here. Photo: Google

A Queens driver executing a dangerous move in reverse struck and killed a 64-year-old man as he crossed a Far Rockaway street on Tuesday — and was not charged, even for failure to exercise due care, cops said.

At about 9:10 a.m., the 45-year-old driver of a 2010 Acura turned from New Haven Avenue onto Caffrey Avenue — then threw the car into reverse and drove backwards up Caffrey directly into Richard O'Flaherty, who lived nearby.

O'Flaherty was thrown to the pavement and suffered multiple wounds. He died later at Jamaica Hospital. Meanwhile, the driver, who remained on the scene, was not charged, even though drivers who are traveling backwards are almost always deemed at fault in crashes. (Police say the investigation is ongoing. The driver's name was not released.)

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than half a million backing crashes happen each year, causing 30,000 injuries and roughly 300 deaths. Many of these crashes could have been avoided if the drivers were more aware of the dangers of driving in reverse and knew the appropriate techniques to offset the hazards, said Tony Douglas, president and CEO of Smith System, a driver training course.

“Backing crashes are one of the most common because drivers tend to let their guard down when driving in reverse,” said Douglas said recently. “Since they’re not traveling at a high rate of speed, drivers often lose their focus, and focus is always critical for safety. Backing and parking are moments when drivers need to focus their full attention on the driving environment.”

The NHTSA report stated that drivers of vehicles with high back ends such as an Audi SUV have much longer blind spots than drivers of smaller cars.

“Pickup trucks and utility vehicles are overrepresented in backover fatalities and injuries when compared to non-backing traffic injury crashes,” the report stated. “In fact, utility vehicles and pickups are involved in an estimated 61 percent of backover fatalities even though they only account for 29 percent of vehicles in non-backing traffic injury crashes.”

In New York City, such deaths happen with all-too-horrific frequency:

And those are just the instances that we know about because the NYPD report included that detail.

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