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To Prevent Truck Accidents, Drivers Need to Know NYC is Different

New York truck accidents are mostly the same as truck accidents anywhere else in the United States, However, the density, congestion of vehicles, population, and traffic laws of New York City make some types of truck crashes more common and more dangerous here than in other parts of the country. Moreover, some of the regulations governing the operation of trucks in the city differ from those in the rest of the state. Drivers need to be aware of these differences if they are to operate safely in the city.

City Streets Too Small for Big Trucks

Some streets in New York simply cannot accommodate even a medium-sized truck. Many parts of the city are off-limits to tractor-trailers. It is not only narrow streets that are unsafe for large trucks, but also streets with very sharp turns that are impossible for a big truck to navigate. The result: Accidents in the strangest places.

An example of this type of truck accident occurred near Grand Central Station, a transportation hub in midtown Manhattan. A semi driver headed to Ohio from Long Island entered the Pershing Square viaduct around Grand Central. Because of the tight turns and elevated structure, the viaduct is off limits to vehicles over 15 tons. The driver was unable to navigate a turn and crashed into the rail, sending debris onto the sidewalk. Fortunately, no one was injured, although the driver was cited for numerous traffic violations.

Low Bridges Trap The Unwary Truck Driver In The City

There are several hundred bridges, elevated railways, tunnel entrances, and highway entrance ramps in New York City. All of these can be hazardous to truckers who do not pay attention to truck routes and low-bridge warnings. Accidents caused by trucks striking low bridges are particularly common on the parkways leading into the city due to the age of the infrastructure. Many of the parkways were built in the 1930s and ’40s to accommodate the size of the vehicles that were driven at that time.

In New York, large commercial vehicles are prohibited from driving on most parkways, due to the dangers associated with the low bridges. Instead, commercial vehicles must use the New York City Truck Route Network, comprised of local and through routes that drivers choose depending on their destinations. The local routes are designated for trucks with origins and destinations within a city borough. Through routes mainly consist of major urban arterials and highways and are intended for use by trucks that do not have origins or destinations within a borough.

This route system can lead to confusion for drivers not familiar with New York’s commercial roads. The Trucking Association of New York says most of the drivers who hit bridges are from out of state. If a commercial vehicle becomes stuck beneath a low bridge, the driver can face high penalties including a fine and points on their license.

Some lawmakers and others advocate the use of GPS devices to alert truck drivers to low bridges and other hazards. Many in the trucking industry, however, believe that such devices often provide incorrect information and give drivers a false sense of security.

In 2011, a low-bridge accident occurred on the Hutchinson River Parkway, a major commuting route into the city from Westchester County. Although trucks are not allowed on this road, and many signs warn drivers not only about the truck prohibition but about the low bridges and overpasses. Nevertheless, a lost driver of a semi hit an overpass in Rye Bridge en route from Virginia, ripping off the roof of the cab.

In 2019, New York State reported at least 576 bridge strike accidents on state highways since 2015. To mitigate these accidents, Governor Cuomo announced a 2019-2020 Executive Budget of $25 million for the implementation of accident prevention technology including dual infrared beams, audible bells, and warning signs. In addition to warning truck drivers of incoming danger near low bridges, the new systems will also send notifications to law enforcement personnel. .

More Stringent Rules To Prevent Pedestrian Accidents

To operate a commercial vehicle in the city, drivers must know the special rules that apply to them when driving in the five boroughs. One law relates to cross-over mirrors, which can significantly reduce pedestrian accidents. Because of the cab’s height, drivers of big trucks often cannot see a pedestrian or bike rider directly in front of the vehicle, and numerous injuries and fatalities have occurred as a result.

The law, which went into effect in January of 2012, requires all trucks operating in the city to have cross-over mirrors (except on expressways). These eliminate a driver’s blind spot and make it possible to see anything more than three feet tall that is at least 12 inches away from the front of the truck. The law applies to commercial vehicles 26,000 pounds or more.

Truck Accidents In The City Not Limited To Big Trucks

Tractor trailers are not the only trucks involved in accidents in New York. News stories have reported on crashes involving sanitation trucks, vans, delivery trucks, construction trucks and other types of trucks. Whether they were injured in a semi-trailer accident or by a local commercial vehicle, individuals injured in any type of trucking crash should call the truck accident attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy to learn about their options and rights. For a FREE consultation call 212-736-5300

The other people involved in your trucking accident are already protecting themselves, why aren’t you? To learn more about the firm, take a look at www.blockotoole.com.

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Fill out our short online contact form for a FREE, immediate case review, or call us locally at 212-736-5300 today. The lawyers in our firm work on a contingency basis, so we do not collect any money unless we win your case.