— TransAlt (@transalt) June 19, 2015
In 2014 MTA bus drivers killed eight people in crosswalks. Some of those fatalities occurred after the Right of Way Law took effect last August, and several bus drivers were arrested and charged under the law.
The year is nearly half over, and to this point MTA bus drivers haven’t fatally struck anyone in 2015. It’s a small sample size, but with bus-involved fatalities down, state lawmakers should not tamper with the Right of Way Law.
A bill sponsored by Assembly Member Walter T. Mosley and state Senator Martin Dilan would prohibit police from detaining bus drivers and other for-hire drivers suspected of violating the Right of Way Law. Officers would instead be required to issue a desk appearance ticket when police have “reasonable cause to believe” an “omnibus” driver has committed a “traffic infraction or misdemeanor” in a crash involving a pedestrian or cyclist. If the driver has a valid license, remains at the scene, and cooperates with police, the bill says officers “shall not detain or otherwise prevent” the driver from leaving the scene after police complete an “immediate investigation.”
The bill seems intended to spare bus drivers who injure and kill people the indignity of being placed in cuffs. But its scope is such that it would severely compromise police officers’ ability to get dangerous drivers off the roads.
For one thing, “omnibus” includes not only to MTA bus drivers, but all professional for-hire drivers, including yellow and green taxi drivers, livery drivers, and drivers working for services like Uber and Lyft, anywhere in New York State.