According to a recent report by the Daily News, the new Right of Way law is giving pedestrians mixed signals. The new law makes it a misdemeanor for a driver to injure or kill a pedestrian or bicyclist with the right of way. This offers a stronger protection as compared to the existing Failure to Yield statute, which has traditionally resulted in varying fines and penalties. Under the new legislation, a violation can carry a penalty of up to 30 days in jail for motorists convicted of killing or injuring a pedestrian or cyclist with the right of way.
However, the New York Traffic Statute, which was enacted prior to Right of Way, bars pedestrians from starting to cross a street or continuing on from a median when there is a flashing upraised hand or DON’T WALK signal. In other words, once the signal changes from WALK, pedestrians lose their right of way and the new law doesn’t apply. Critics argue that this literal interpretation of the statute goes against common sense and makes it is much more difficult for drivers to be charged for violations.
According to the Department of Transportation, countdown clocks have been installed at 5,000 intersections in the city since 2011, and there are plans to install 4,500 more within the next two years. Suggestions have been made to rewrite the city rules to grant pedestrians the right of way as long as the signal is not a steady red hand. The walk signal phases could also be lengthened to give people more time to cross safely. Such changes would extend the applicability of the new Right of Way law and protect the interests of pedestrians and cyclists.
At a hearing earlier this year, Mayor Bill De Blasio expressed support for the Right of Way law, saying, “It is a stricter standard than that which existed previously, and that’s for a reason, because people were being killed and grievously hurt in all sorts of instances and there wasn’t a clear enough legal consequence. So the law, I think, has been a step forward.” A similar pedestrian safety plan was launched by the DOT in coordination with Mayor De Blasio\’s Vision Zero plan in February.
If you have received a traffic infraction, you need a team of dedicated and experienced attorneys to handle your case. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm for a free consultation at 888-203-2619.