What to Know
- The family of a 17-year-old Queens girl killed at a crosswalk is calling for elderly drivers to be retested every two years
- Madeline Shershen was struck by an 88-year-old driver in Whitestone in June
- Since Shershen's death, family members and neighbors have been working to change New York license renewal laws
The family of a 17-year-old girl struck and killed by an elderly driver at a Queens intersection in June have started a petition urging mandatory vision retesting every two years for all drivers age 80 and above.
Madeline Shershen was struck by an 88-year-old driver on Utopia Parkway near 16th Avenue in Whitestone, near P.S. 209, back in June. The teen was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
"Our 17-year-old niece was robbed of her life, something we have to live with every day," said Rita Barravecchio, the aunt of the victim.
The elderly driver, Sheila Kahn-Prager of Queens, ran a red light and was taken into custody at the scene, according to police. The woman told family members she didn't see Shershen.
"She hit Maddie, and Maddie ended up all the way over here," said Barravecchio.
Since Shershen's death, family members and neighbors have been working to change New York license renewal laws. The petition they started now has more than 22,000 signatures.
New York state driver's licenses must been renewed every eight years, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. New Jersey requires renewals every four years, and Connecticut every six.
The New York DMV says licenses are renewed after the driver passes a vision state.
“In accordance with the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, the Department of Motor Vehicles cannot treat license holders differently based solely upon their age," the DMV said in a statement.
"If someone is concerned about any driver’s performance on the road, we urge them to contact the DMV right away to request a driver review," it said. "DMV may initiate a driver re-evaluation if a driving incident, behavior, or action related to the driver’s performance is reported to the DMV."
Barravecchio said of the family's initiative, "This is not age discrimination, it's not. You're not testing your peripheral vision, you're not testing your reaction rate or your ability to respond."
Advocates hope the petition will lead to new legislation in Albany.
"No one should feel this pain. And that's why this change has to happen," said Barravecchio.