The union, Transport Workers Union Local 100, says the arrest on Friday of the driver, Francisco DeJesus, a veteran with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, was uncalled-for; it has supported a proposed amendment in the City Council to exclude bus drivers from the law. The union created a hashtag — #LetsBePerfect — for its 10,000 bus operators, protesting that the mayor’s policy, Vision Zero, unreasonably demanded perfection.Here's a great legal and moral question: is it unreasonable to impose serious penalties for people whose mistakes lead to the deaths and injuries of others? When is it reasonable to demand perfection?
Mr. DeJesus was charged with failure to yield after his bus struck the girl as she was crossing the street with a walk signal in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on her way to school. She was pinned under the front of the bus, and her leg was severely injured.
More broadly, what level of accidental death is acceptable? Is our right to get around conveniently and quickly worth the 30,000 American lives lost to vehicle accidents every year?
Obviously it is rarely possible to reduce any accident rate to zero. On the other hand, treating accidents as just something that happens is an invitation to more of them. The airline industry has reduced accidents to a fantastically low level by treating every single accident as something that ought not to have happened. Hospitals are now trying to use the same techniques to reduce their accident rates.
Yet one thing airlines and hospitals have discovered is that blaming people for mistakes is rarely effective; what is effective is changing whole systems to make mistakes less likely. I suspect that the only way to really curtail vehicle-pedestrian accidents is the physical separation of vehicles and pedestrians, and in New York that would be hard to achieve.