Rangel: Let’s Allow Bus Drivers to Kill People With the Right of Way

Congressman Charlie Rangel condemned the Right of Way Law earlier this week, joining the Transport Workers Union to argue that the law should allow MTA bus drivers to kill people who have the right of way.

Photo: Politic365

Speaking to bus drivers and TWU officials Monday at the Mother Clara Hale Depot in Harlem, Rangel said it was “stupid” to charge bus drivers with a misdemeanor for injuring and killing people with the right of way, according to Daily News reporter Pete Donohue, a Right of Way Law critic who has devoted a lot of ink to the TWU campaign to exempt drivers from the law.

Echoing the TWU, Rangel said that hitting people who are walking or biking with the right of way is just part of the job of driving a bus.

“Common sense would indicate that when (lawmakers) were thinking about this, the last thing in the world they were thinking about is a bus driver doing their duty would be arrested,” Rangel said. “Right now, we should be calling the mayor and telling him, ‘Don’t embarrass yourself.’ Anybody can make a mistake and this is just one big damn mistake, that’s all, because isn’t a joke [sic].”

After years of drivers hitting people with virtually no accountability, the Right of Way Law gave NYPD and prosecutors a tool to impose at least some consequences against motorists for harming people who were following traffic laws. To Rangel, applying this law consistently “doesn’t make any damn sense at all.”

Speaking of making no damn sense at all, the TWU unveiled more propaganda blaming victims for getting hit by bus drivers:

Our emphasis is to protect our Bus Operators from being arrested for non negligent accidents. The solution is to fix the systemic causes of right-of-way accidents involving MTA buses, including street design, MTA bus routing, pedestrian and cyclist behavior, and lines of sight on buses.

Street design, bus design, and bus routing are all factors that should be examined, but let’s get one thing clear: Of the nine pedestrians killed by MTA bus drivers in 2014, eight were crossing with the right of way.

Yet by TWU’s telling, the only ones who aren’t responsible for bus drivers killing people are bus drivers. “NYC’s Vision Law [sic] unfairly and illogically targets Bus Operators,” the union claims.

No, the law only says that if any driver strikes someone walking or biking with the right of way, that driver should pay a fine and face a misdemeanor charge. What would be unfair and illogical is to carve out an exemption that lets MTA bus drivers kill people with impunity.

  • JudenChino

    This is all so disheartening. I get it that unions should protect their own. I believe unions are very necessary, even, and in some cases especially, public unions. But when they use their power to exempt their members from the most basic level of scrutiny (negligent standard applicable to everyone), and in which they literally are trying to exempt their members from a fricking misdemeanor, it’s just sooo depressing.

    Think of the fucking harm they’re trying to minimize –> the harm of their member’s being put in hand cuffs for the lowest level misdemeanor, in which their failure to yield leads to serious injury or death. Why! Why are they using their political clout for that! Like, Charlie “I don’t pay my taxes” Rangel, why the fuck do you think (negligently) killer bus driver’s are more sympathetic then the dead people under the buses tires?

  • Kevin Love

    The latest TWU union propaganda is profoundly disturbing. They write of:

    “.. criminalizing of transit professionals for doing exactly what NYC and the MTA require them to as a condition of employment.”

    I am unaware that killing and injuring people is a condition of their employment. This statement is just so profoundly irresponsible.

  • AlexWithAK

    This trend of public unions throwing a temper tantrum about their actions being called into question is deeply disturbing. First the NYPD unions lashed out and now the TWU. These unions are responding to criticism and efforts at accountability with hyperbolic and vitriolic rhetoric. It’s completely nonsensical that people who supposedly serve the public would act this way.

    These incidents have made me increasingly skeptical of public sector unions. Municipalities across the country are in deep financial trouble due to generous worker contracts, but that isn’t enough. They’re asking to be placed above the law. Let me be clear that workers deserve fair treatment and good pay for the work they do. But these demands are becoming onerous and eroding public trust. The line needs to be drawn somewhere.

  • Alicia

    As a bus rider, I want bus drivers (and other commercial drivers) to be *more* accountable than other drivers, not less.

  • Jesse

    “Common sense would indicate that when (lawmakers) were thinking about this, the last thing in the world they were thinking about is a bus driver doing their duty would be arrested,” Rangel said.

    Since when is it a bus driver’s duty to run over people who have the right of way?

    “Right now, we should be calling the mayor and telling him, ‘Don’t embarrass yourself.’ Anybody can make a mistake and this is just one big damn mistake, that’s all, because isn’t a joke [sic].”

    Yes it’s “one big damn mistake”. All crimes could be summed up as “one big damn mistake”.

  • J

    Seriously. Alienating liberals like me is a quick way to destroy most of your clout.

    I still can’t believe they’re actually making the case they they should have special privileges to injure and kill with impunity.

  • WalkingNPR

    Bus and other professional drivers have to get special drivers licenses and medical clearances, recognizing the higher standard someone who drives professionally should be held to. It’s so backwards that they’re trying to argue that when they crash it’s just a “whoopsie!” They should absolutely be expected to be even better drivers than regular people.

  • At this point we need to support the Mayor on ROW, and contact the City Council Transportation Committee, where I. Daneek Miller’s intro bill to exempt MTA drivers sits, and contact the NY State Assembly which has a bill to stop the NYPD from handcuffing MTA drivers they arrest (a foot-in-the-door that may lead to a broader bill to exempt). And now the unions have a Congressman on their side. Better start contacting our Representatives too.

  • WalkingNPR

    Yeah, Charlie Rangel, you’re probably right that the lawmakers weren’t thinking about a bus driver when they made the Right of Way Law. I’m pretty sure they were thinking of the person being hit by the vehicle.

  • armyvet00

    Exactly- the quote is very odd. No one is criminalized for just “driving”, whether their duty or not. And running over someone is not part of “driving”.

  • Mmmmaris

    So, my eight year old son saw this headline and asked me to explain it. How could it possibly be OK for a bus driver to bus driver to run over someone in a crosswalk when the pedestrian has a green light?

    As best as he can figure it, if you run someone over in a crosswalk, you should go to jail. The pedestrian has the right to walk. If the driver doesn’t see the pedestrian, then he’s not looking. If the driver doesn’t go to jail, then its like killing someone for free, which doesn’t make sense.

    Make sense? (His words, not mine).

    So, then, as parents, what do we tell our children about following crosswalk lights?

  • “…according to Daily News reporter Pete Donohue, a Right of Way Law critic who has devoted a lot of ink to the TWU campaign to exempt drivers from the law.”

    Understatement of the year. So much concern for people who spend 15 minutes in cuffs only to have all charges dismissed and none for a teenage girl who one would assume is still dealing with the effects of a grievous injury.

    Donohue’s coverage and POV is a moral choice.

  • dporpentine

    You tell them the truth: it’ll only do so much good, since some people just don’t care about others. And there’s almost always a direct correlation between how much power you have and how little you care about anyone else.

  • Joe Enoch

    No big shocker here. This is the same scumbag who used to make taxpayers foot the bill for his Cadillac.

  • Tyson White

    They assume that all bus drivers are the same. And are willing to tranish the reputation of the good drivers by not going after the bad ones, like this guy http://nypost.com/2015/04/20/riders-film-bus-driver-reading-while-driving-with-no-hands/

    and this guy http://www.streetsblog.org/2015/02/27/parents-of-seth-kahn-ineffective-mta-protocols-contributed-to-sons-death/

  • Rangel: Since he’s determined not to drop dead, I don’t know what will make that self-satisfied FF go away.

  • Kevin Love

    Voters?

  • neroden

    This is sufficient to disqualify the TWU from union status. If they think that they are employed to kill and maim innocent pedestrians… they really can’t be involved in job negotiations. Because they are not employed to kill people!

  • neroden

    These particular unions (NYPD union in NYC and TWU local in NYC) are no longer functioning as unions, but as crime syndicates. The same appears to be true of the LIRR unions.

    We should have no tolerance for that sort of criminal behavior. None.

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