In about the past 10 months, 8,000 pedestrians and bicyclists have been injured or killed in New York City by motor vehicles. In that same period, the New York Police Department has used the Right of Way Law, which allows them to make misdemeanor arrests of motorists who injure or kill bikers and pedestrians who are traveling with the right of way. The law is part of the mayor’s Vision Zero initiative to try and cut down on the incidence of fatal accident or personal injury occurrences involving pedestrians or bikers.
Apparently, certain motorists’ groups and interests have been lobbying the City Council to curtail and hamper police use of the law to try and deter injury and deaths on city streets. At least two new bills have been introduced that will make it much tougher for police to use the Right of Way law. With residents and tourists being hurt, crippled and killed on the streets every day, it is difficult to imagine how these lobbying efforts will contribute to public safety.
The recent bill being prepared for presentation by one councilman allows charging drivers who were reckless or grossly negligent but would prevent citing those who were merely a bit careless. However, the Chief of Transportation for the city has explained that charges are not filed unless a determination of probable cause has first been made. He pointed out that, given the number of pedestrians and cyclists injured or killed just in the past 10 months, the city is actually showing great restraint in its policies.
Other officials have explained that motorists cannot be excused for outside forces like weather. The motorist must take inclement weather into consideration and drive slower where the conditions demand it. Despite all of the jockeying on the issue, innocent victims of negligent motorists in New York city can help to enforce safety by bringing a personal injury claim for compensation when appropriate. The consequences of enforcing insurance coverage in compensation for negligently caused death or serious injury are steep and lasting in many cases, and will help to deter the fatal accident and injury numbers in the future.
Source: streetsblog.org, “Rory Lancman Will Introduce Bill to Hamstring NYPD Crash Investigators“, Brad Aaron, May 19, 2015