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April's - "Wheels of Justice" Blog- Vulnerable Road User laws in NY

Wheels of Justice


April 9, 2015 -

What are “Vulnerable Road User” Laws?

Automobiles provide a shell of protection for their users – creating a safety disparity between cars and other road users. There is a significant difference between what occurs when a car is struck at 25 miles-per-hour and what happens to a pedestrian or cyclist involved in the same collision. While the percentage of motorist deaths has continued to fall on a national level, the percentage of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities has tragically grown.

Vulnerable Road User laws increase protection for bicyclists and other road users who are not in cars. States have chosen to protect vulnerable road users in a variety of ways. This usually involves 1) harsher penalties for the violation of existing laws when that violation impacts a defined set of road users or 2) the creation of new laws that prohibit certain actions directed at a defined set of road users.

NY’s Vulnerable Road User Law: Haley and Diego’s Law

Careless Drivers May Now Face Jail Time for Injuring Bicyclists & Pedestrians

New York State has passed “vulnerable user” laws to crack down on careless drivers who injure pedestrians and bicyclists. The legislation, called “Hayley and Diego’s Law,” was introduced after the tragic deaths of Hayley Ng, 4, and Diego Martinez, 3, who were killed in Chinatown in NYC when a delivery van, that had been left in reverse, climbed the curb and hit the children. The driver was not charged with any infraction resulting from the children’s deaths. In response to this tragedy, NY legislators passed NY Vehicle & Traffic Law §1146.

V&T §1146 imposes the following penalties on drivers, whose failure to exercise due care results in injury to pedestrians or bicyclists:

  • For the first offense, a fine of $750 or 15 days of jail time, participation in a driving training course, suspension or revocation of the driver’s license or registration, or any combination of these penalties; and
  • For the second offense, any of the above penalties, plus a misdemeanor criminal charge.

NYC Administratice Code Criminalizes Crashes with Cyclist/Pedestrian

In addition to NY V&T §1146 which applies state-wide, in 2014 NYC enacted an Administrative Code which now criminalizes a crash with a cyclist or pedestrian who has the right of way. In the event that a driver’s failure to yield the right of way to a cyclist or pedestrian causes “physical injury”, §19-190 of the NYC Administrative Code provides that the driver may be charged with a misdemeanor and imprisoned for up to 30 days.


This information is provided by NYBC Board Members and Attorneys Daniel Flanzig of NewYorkBikeLawyers.com (Flanzig and Flanzig, LLP) and Jim Reed, www.NYBikeAccidentBlog.com Dan and Jim are New York Attorneys focusing in the rights and protection of cyclists across New York.

Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice nor does the use of this article create an attorney/client relationship. The advice in this article offers a general overview of the laws in New York. Remember, every incident or claim is specific, and the guidelines may not be applicable to your particular case. As always, we suggest contacting an attorney with any legal claim or issue before taking action on your own behalf.