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Bus drivers fight for exemption from New York City's Right of Way law

On any given day in New York City, the streets and sidewalks are teaming with taxi cabs, cars, delivery trucks, bicycles and pedestrians. When the paths of motor vehicles intersect with those of pedestrians, to ensure for everyone's safety, all involved parties must abide by traffic laws. Yet, many drivers continually fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians and annually an estimated 4,500 pedestrians are injured or killed as a result.

Last year, members of the City Council passed what's known as the Right of Way law. Previously, drivers who were cited for failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian who was subsequently injured or killed were penalized with fines and points on their driver’s license. With the passage of the Right of Way law, drivers who put the lives of pedestrians at risk are now charged with a misdemeanor.

The law has come under fire by bus drivers with the city's Metro Transit Association. Members of the Transport Workers Union argue the law unfairly and disproportionately targets MTA bus drivers who spend their days navigating the congested and chaotic city streets. However, the fact that bus drivers spend hours driving throughout the city's five boroughs only serves to strengthen the argument for why they, along with anyone who chooses to drive in New York City, should be bound by the new Right of Way law.

Even traveling at a slow rate of speed, the injuries suffered in a pedestrian and bus accident are often debilitating or fatal. Everyone, regardless of their mode of transportation, has a right to get around the city in a safe manner. There's no excuse for not providing a pedestrian with the right of way and drivers who believe otherwise may risk the lives of innocent pedestrians and also face criminal charges.

Source: Transportation Alternatives, "The New York City Right of Way Law," July 7, 2015

New York Daily News, "Apply the right-of-way law to all, including city bus drivers," Veronica Vanterpool, June 11, 2015

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