The wheels on the bus go round and round – and around certain traffic laws.
The New York State Senate passed a bill exempting bus, taxi and other professional drivers from being detained or arrested if they hit a pedestrian with the right of way.
Under the legislation if the driver has a valid license, is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and cooperates with the police they cannot be kept at the scene of the accident. They can only be issued a ticket to show up to court. Officers would also be unable to place for-hire-drivers in a holding cell for other violations such as reckless endangerment and assault.
The bill passed in a 54-6 vote on Tuesday.
Drivers may leave the scene but they can still be charged with a misdemeanor under the Right-of-Way Law. The Right-of-Way regulation allowed police the authority to charge reckless drivers for injuring pedestrians even if they were sober or otherwise broke no other laws.
The Transportation Workers Union Local 100 supported the bill. The organization stated that this legislation does not exempt bus drivers from being charged of a crime but spares their dignity of getting arrested immediately for an accident.
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“[This bill] would erase the way we are protected in New York City’s crosswalks and bike lanes,” said a petition from Transport Alternatives, an advocacy group that promotes improvements in bicycling and public transit infrastructure. “It’s leapfrogging democratic processes in Albany.”
The New York State Assembly must pass the legislation before it can go into effect.