There has been much buzz about Mayor De Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to improve road safety in the city. The Right of Way law was enacted as part of the Vision Zero initiative and is aimed at serving as a deterrent for those who fail to yield by imposing criminal sanctions on drivers who strike pedestrians or cyclists.
However, proposed legislation would exempt bus drivers from NYC’s Right of Way law. As a result of the law, six bus drivers are among the twenty two drivers who have been charged with misdemeanors when their buses failed to yield. However, bus drivers and The Amalgamated Transit Union have asserted that the design of the buses is a major reason for these accidents. MTA buses are 40 or 60 feet long and often contain 100 passengers. In addition to large and difficult to maneuver vehicles, bus drivers are also often faced with many distractions that can arise from both inside and outside the bus. Bus drivers have asserted that they are already penalized by the MTA if an accident with a pedestrian or cyclist occurs, including pay cuts, suspensions, and termination. They argue that accidents are a real possibility, simply due to the nature of the job. Transport Union Local 100 President, John Samuelsen remarked that bus drivers are being “unfairly scapegoated and targeted.” Each of the MTA’s 5,600 buses would cost $300 to improve in order to yield more effectively.
Families of those who have been struck by vehicles have formed an organization called “Families for Safe Streets.” They have urged that exempting bus drivers from the Right of Way law would create a double standard and “dilute the effects” of the law. They have stated that “bus drivers set the standard for all drivers.”
The Right of Way law imposes a $100 fine for failing to yield without causing injury to a pedestrian; and up to $250 and 30 days in jail if a pedestrian or cyclist is injured or killed.
If you or a family member has been injured or killed by a bus, taxi, or another vehicle in New York City, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can get you the compensation you deserve. Call the attorneys at Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP at (212) 571-7171.