It’s been a year now since the “Right of Way Law” in New York City went into effect. A cornerstone of the Vision Zero initiative of the city’s mayor, Bill De Blasio, the legislation made harming bicyclists and pedestrians who have the right of way a misdemeanor for motor vehicle operators.
The New York Times published a story this past June, which stated that the New York Police Department charged at least 31 people with the misdemeanor charge in the 10 month period after the law went into effect. Unfortunately, there were more than 11,600 cyclists and pedestrians injured and 118 killed during that same time period.
According to the 2010 Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan completed by the New York Department of Transportation, 27 percent of pedestrian deaths and serious injuries in the city have a primary factor of failure to yield. With numbers like that, it’s very unlikely that the NYPD charges most drivers involved in those accidents with failure to yield.
In October 2013, the NYPD chief of transportation said that all of the police department’s uniformed officers would be trained in how to enforce the law — all 35,000 of them. It appears, though, that most motorists involved in such accidents do not have to face such a charge.
According to data from the NYPD, from September 2014 through July of this year, drivers in New York killed 112 and injured 9,334 people. During the same time period prior, 141 pedestrians were killed and 10,658 were injured. That is about a 20 percent drop in fatalities and 12 percent drop in injuries.
The Right of Way Law gives the NYPD the means to hold motorists who do not yield to bicyclists and pedestrians responsible, but this deterrent does not seem to be utilized as much as hoped — or as expected.
Those who are injuried or who have lost a loved one because of a negligent driver have the right to hold the driver accountable for his or her actions. A personal injury attorney can explain more about how this is done.
Source: StreetsBlog NYC, “One Year Later, Bratton’s NYPD Rarely Enforcing Key Vision Zero Law,” Brad Aaron, Aug. 24, 2015