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New York’s Rule of Two Needs to Be Challenged

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Ever heard of New York’s Rule of Two? It’s infamous for its upsetting consequences, but it’s possible that it could be challenged in the courts.

New York’s Rule of Two

New York’s Rule of Two Needs to Be Challenged

First, for those who have not heard of New York’s Rule of Two, it essentially states that for a driver to be found criminally negligent when hitting and killing a pedestrian or cyclist, he or she must be violating two traffic laws at the time of the fatal crash. As in, a driver who is texting, runs a red light, and kills someone would be charged criminally, but someone who was just texting alone would not be. Here’s the kicker, however: the actual act of striking the pedestrian or cyclist is not considered one of the traffic violations! It is important to note that the Rule of Two is not actually a law but instead a legal precedent, and a dangerous one.

The recent case that has New Yorkers fired up comes from earlier this year, when a New York City cab driver hit and killed Cooper Stock, a nine-year-old boy who was obeying all pedestrian laws while crossing the street with his father. This would be a tragedy regardless of the age of the person killed, but the fact that an innocent child was killed has garnered this particular incident more attention—and could lead to change in the Empire State.

Because of New York’s Rule of Two, the driver who killed Cooper did not face any severe criminal charges. Instead, he received a minor violation and was slapped with an incidental fine. But now, local officials have enacted what they’ve called Cooper’s Law, in an attempt to get the city to take away the licenses of any cab drivers who strike pedestrians (assuming pedestrians have the right of way). Whether Cooper’s Law will gain any traction remains to be seen.

One silver lining, however, is Intro 238, a new law that now makes drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians and cyclists with the right of way guilty of a traffic infraction. In theory, this should eliminate New York’s Rule of Two, but according to Eric Jaffe at CityLab, “for a new precedent to emerge, the old one must be challenged, and it remains to be seen how courts and cops will interpret the change.”

We can only hope for a positive interpretation.

News Source: CityLab