NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)– A new bill would give pedestrians the right of way, even when the crossing light is flashing.
Under the law at present in New York City, pedestrians crossing a street at a crosswalk with a “Walk, Don’t Walk” sign only have the right of away if they’ve begun crossing when the sign shows a white walk signal.
Public advocate Leticia James is proposing a measure to change that, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.
“That is, as long as the crosswalk signal shows the equivalent of a walk signal or a blinking don’t walk signal or the countdown clock has not yet reached zero, the pedestrian should have the right of way,” she said.
The bill has the support of the New York Police Department.
“Too many pedestrians are killed and injured crossing our city’s streets, and often are not protected by the right of way law,” James said back in November. “By ensuring pedestrians have the right of way when a countdown clock is running, we are updating the law to reflect the reality of crossing the street in New York City. To truly achieve Vision Zero, we must continue to update and enforce our laws, and educate our drivers and pedestrians.”
Advocates of the proposal said that the current law is outdated and gives drivers a loophole to not be held accountable for possible accidents with pedestrians.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said in January that under the city’s Vision Zero program, 2015 was officially the safest year ever on New York City streets since record keeping began in 1910.
Officials said there were 231 traffic fatalities in 2015, 66 lower than the 297 fatalities that occurred in 2013, the year before Vision Zero began.
Pedestrian deaths also fell 27 percent during that period to a historic low of 134 in 2015, officials said. The previous lows were 2011 with 249 traffic fatalities and 2014 with 139 pedestrian fatalities.
Vision Zero aims to reduce traffic injuries and deaths by cracking down on careless drivers and redesigning dangerous intersections, among other initiatives, which also included reducing the speed limit citywide.