Nearly six months since having her 14-year old daughter hit and by a Toyota Camry while trying to cross Sunrise Highway, Sandi Vega is on a mission to improve transportation conditions on a local and state level.
Vega has been working with elected officials to have a “complete streets policy” adopted at both the state and local levels to prevent tragedies like what happened to her daughter Brittany from affecting other families. Vega spoke at a Town of Hempstead Board meeting earlier this year urging passage of the “complete streets policy”, which would ensure that transportation planners and engineers design roadways with all users in mind including pedestrians. Vega is also working closely with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign to have a “complete streets policy” adopted at the state level.
“If we were able to get it passed for this area we would know that every time that we see a road getting fixed it would be safer for all the kids in the community,” said Vega.
Two weeks ago Vega along with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign launched an online campaign to try and get 20,000 signatures supporting the “complete streets policy, referring to it as “Brittany’s Law.” In just one week nearly 2,500 signatures had already been obtained.
“It’s an unprecedented response rate that we have been getting and it is largely because the Vega family and Sandi in particular has taken such an important leadership role in this campaign,” said Ryan Lynch, Senior Planner and Long Island coordinator for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Even after suffering such a horrible loss she has wanted to translate it into something positive and something other families don’t have to go through.”
The “complete streets policy” was approved unanimously in the State Senate last year but got hung up in the assembly. Vega has been in contact with Assemblyman David G. McDonough, R-North Merrick, about trying to get the policy passed this year.
"I give [Vega] a lot of credit," said Assemblyman McDonough. "She is trying to turn this tragedy into something positive."
McDonough said the "complete streets policy" is now in the assembly's transportation committee and he hopes to see it advance for a vote in the near future.
Lynch said he hopes if the “complete streets policy” is approved at the state level that it will be referred to as “Brittany’s Law” as a way to honor the fallen Wantagh teen and help bring more awareness to road safety. “It puts a face to the issue,” said Lynch. “It is important to remind people that these tragic accidents are not pre-determined. We do have technology to prevent or mitigate fatalities and injuries to pedestrians and cyclists and non motorist users and motorist users of the road.”
Vega said she remains very touched by the outpouring of support she and her family received in the wake of losing Brittany. Many of Brittany’s friends from continue to visit the Vega household to show their support for the family. Vega also said many people from the community who the family did not know prior to the Sept. 22, 2010 tragedy who offered their support last fall have continued to be by their side six months later.
“People still continue to help in any way they can,” said Vega. “We love when people come over and support us.”