Today, the Senate Democratic Majority advanced a legislative package to help prevent tragedies by making our roads safer and making additional protections for bicyclists and pedestrians. This package will require instruction on and improve bike and pedestrian safety, school bus safety, railroad crossing safety, increase penalties for endangering workers in highway work zones, and require charter busses to have commercial GPS technology.
Additionally, this legislative package includes funding educational programs for safe roadways and requires that any for-hire vehicle that uses a smartphone app needs to incorporate identification safety measures.
The transportation safety legislation passed by the Senate Democratic Majority includes:
- Pre-licensing Instructional Program on Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety: This bill, S.1078A, sponsored by Senator Andrew Gounardes, would require that bicycle and pedestrian safety laws are taught during the pre-licensing or “five-hour” course.
- Share the Road Provision: This bill, S.4529, sponsored by Senator Pete Harckham, requires that all vehicles outside the City of New York allow for three feet of space when passing a bicyclist on the road. This is an updated mandate to better protect riders as the Department of Transportation constructs new and improved bike lanes throughout the state.
- Road Worker Safety: This bill, S.3957, sponsored by Senator Timothy M. Kennedy, increases penalties for highway worker endangerment, and expands the work zone safety and outreach program to ensure that employees are involved in designing public education and outreach. It would also establish the Work Zone Safety Fund, which would collect 60% of all resulting fines and direct them towards work zone crash prevention measures.
- Program to Address Wrong-Way Driving on the Interstate: This bill, S.982A, sponsored by Senator James Gaughran, seeks to combat the rate of drivers who travel the wrong way on the highway and frequently cause head-on collisions.
- School Bus Safety and Education Program: This bill, S.4661, sponsored by Senator Kevin Parker, addresses the endemic issue of illegal school bus passing by implementing a public education program, as well as dedicating ticket revenues to a new school bus motorist education fund that would study the issues related to illegal school bus passing and implement proposals designed to prevent school bus passing.
- Responsible Railroad Crossing: This bill, S.252A, sponsored by Senator Kevin Thomas, authorizes political subdivisions and certain public authorities to establish demonstration programs implementing railroad grade crossing monitoring systems by means of photo devices.
- For-hire Vehicle Confirmation: This bill, S.3533, sponsored by Senator Timothy M. Kennedy, requires that any for-hire vehicle provider that connects rides by smartphone app establishes a coupling system between drivers and passengers to verify that passengers are entering the correct vehicle. This responds to concerns about the abuse of car sharing services by those with ill-intent, which has resulted in homicides, assaults, and sexual assaults.
- Reckless Driving Prevention: This bill, S.6202, sponsored by Senator Timothy M. Kennedy, makes it easier to prosecute and enforce misdemeanor reckless driving charges against drivers who cause physical injury or worse, and includes education components for prospective and current drivers.
- Commercial GPS Requirements in Charter Buses: This bill, S.6321A, sponsored by Senator James Gaughran, requires that all charter buses registered in New York are equipped with a commercial GPS system. Currently, some drivers employ GPS apps designed for everyday commuter use. This technology does not suggest routes best suited for busses, which has resulted in numerous accidents– particularly due to low hanging overpasses on parkways.
- First Responder Safety Zones: This bill, S.1391A, sponsored by Senator John Brooks, authorizes establishment of first responder safety zones to protect first responders when they are attempting to use their vehicles to respond to an emergency, as well as requiring an additional duty to yield to first responders. This legislation is largely modeled off of school safety zones.
Bill Sponsor, Senator Kevin Thomas said, “I am proud to join my colleagues in advancing legislation that will make roads safer across New York State. We have seen far too many unnecessary and completely preventable accidents, injuries, and fatalities on our roads. By increasing awareness of school bus and pedestrian safety, and introducing measures that will reduce reckless driving, this package of legislation makes our roadways safer for everyone.”