Sen. Cicarella: ‘It’s our job to make sure they are safe.’ [Middletown Press]

July 20, 2021

From the Middletown Press:


U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he will introduce federal legislation to incentivize states to adopt safety measures on ice cream trucks modeled after a state law passed earlier this year.

Blumenthal, D-Conn., announced the proposed federal legislation Monday at the home of Christi Carrano and Tyler Barhorst, parents of the late Tristan Barhorst, who was struck by a car and killed in June 2020 while crossing Wiese Road in Cheshire after getting an his favorite frozen treat, a SpongeBob SquarePants ice cream pop.

“Their son, Tristan, is a bright light still because now he is a beacon for safety,” Blumenthal told reporters. “The worst nightmare for any parent is having their children run out into the street and have this happen.”

Carrano said her son, who was 10 years old, was “everything you’d want as a child.”

“He was such a beautiful person and I told him that every day,” she said, struggling to keep her composure. “He was smart and he was kind and I’m hoping everyone (federal lawmakers) will come together on this so no parent has to go through what we did.”

The bill would set aside one percent of the funding provided through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Priority Safety Programs for states that adopt and implement laws that increase the safety of those who patronize frozen dessert trucks. If the federal legislation were to pass and be signed into law, Connecticut’s share of the funding would be $700,000, according to Blumenthal.

State officials then would determine how best to use the money to make the trucks safer.

Tristan was killed when a 17-year-old driver sought to pass the parked ice cream truck. Although the driver stopped and cooperated with police, Carrano said he had been traveling at 40 mph on a street where the speed limit was 25 mph.

The legislation Blumenthal is proposing also would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to study potential countermeasures to improve safety in ice cream truck stops. Currently, there are only three states other than Connecticut — California, New York and New Jersey — have laws in place that protect patrons of ice cream trucks.

Connecticut’s Tristan’s Law requires ice cream truck owners to install safety equipment that includes flashing lights, caution signs, signal arms and front convex mirrors, and prohibits ice cream sellers from stopping in high-traffic areas.

State Sen. Paul Cicarella, R-East Haven, who proposed Tristan’s Law, said such incidents “probably happen more than we realize.”

“We just don’t hear about them because they don’t have as tragic an outcome,” Cicarella said. “When getting ice cream, kids need to be safe. It’s our job to make sure they are safe.”

Blumenthal said the federal legislation he is proposing is not an effort to target companies that operate ice cream trucks.

“This is giving them a best practices guide,” he said.