In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the Right of Way Law which sought to punish drivers who disregard traffic laws and put the lives of pedestrians in danger. Under the Right of Way Law, a driver who fails to provide a pedestrian the right of way and subsequently hits and injures or kills a pedestrian will be charged with a misdemeanor.
While heralded as a big win by many public safety advocates, the law was extremely unpopular among bus drivers who argued they should be exempt from its provision. Members of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 even went so far as to file a lawsuit against the city which resulted in the city making some concessions including a more narrow definition of what due cause means with regard to proving that a bus driver operated a bus “in a way that a reasonably prudent person wouldn’t have done.”
It seems as though members of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 are still bitter about the passage of the Right of Way Law as the union’s spokesperson, Pete Donahue, recently used his Twitter account to profess that pedestrians are guilty of “killing themselves by mindlessly wandering in front of buses and cars.” Donahue went on to claim that “pedestrians are at fault in 47 percent of the cases where they die.”
Safety advocates throughout the city were quick to condemn the union’s latest and very public pedestrian-bashing messaging proclaiming that Donahue’s comments were out-of-line and insensitive. Overall, statistics from the New York City Police Department show that dangerous driving was cited as contributing to “69 percent of pedestrian fatalities.”