To combat fatalities and injuries among pedestrians and bicyclists in New York City, Mayor de Blasio implemented the Vision Zero street safety program. As part of this program, the City enacted the Right of Way Law that subjects drivers to a misdemeanor charge for striking or killing a pedestrian who has the right of way. However, city unions recently wrote to City Council and objected to the arrest of bus drivers who cause an injury or fatality while driving.
Under the Right of Way Law, the police can arrest a driver after an investigation if the driver did not use due care. Four bus drivers were arraigned under this law while two high-profile cases are pending in Brooklyn.
Unions representing teachers, hotel workers, firefighters, transit workers and other bus operators objected to the arrest of transit workers where the transit accidentswere not caused by reckless behavior. Transit and bus drivers’ union officials claim that there are blind spots from large driver-side mirrors and difficult left-turns at busy intersections. The transit union placed an advertisement objecting to this law in May.
City Council is considering an exemption for bus drivers. Mayor de Blasio has earlier stressed that everyone must comply with this law. A father of a victim killed by a SUV driver argued that there should be no exclusions so all drivers are placed on notice that they should driver more seriously.
Regardless of whether this exclusion is enacted, pedestrians, bicyclists and passengers will undoubtedly face the risk of mass transit accidents. Victims of these accidents and their families should seek prompt legal assistance to help assure that their right to compensation is protected in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
Source: New York Daily News, “Union bosses speak out against Vision Zero, say law should exclude arrest of bus drivers,” Dan Rivoli, June 13, 2015