The recent tragic death of a Bronx teen, hit by a semi truck on the upper east side of Manhattan, was at least the seventh pedestrian death in New York involving a large truck. The city has laws about operating tractor trailers in the five boroughs, but it is hard to determine the degree to which these regulations are enforced.
The driver who hit the high school student received citations for violating the pedestrian’s right of way, careless driving and operating an unregistered vehicle. However, he received no criminal charges as yet. It looks as if the truck exceeded the length limit of 65 feet, yet the only penalties imposed so far are on the driver, rather than on the company that owns the truck.
There have been several other accidents involving semis that did not meet NYC’s length restrictions. The deaths of a man in Brooklyn last month, a woman in Soho last summer and a child in East Harlem last winter were all caused by loner-than-legal tractor trailers. According to the reporter for Streetsblog, it has been impossible to determine whether these trucks had the required permits. The NYC Department of Transportation has not responded to requests for information about the number of permits it gives to oversize trucks.
Juan Martinez, A spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives, an organization that advocates for pedestrians and bicyclists, noted that the city has deployed many strategies to reduce pedestrian accidents, including designing crosswalks and traffic signals in favor of pedestrians. However, whether or not top level law enforcement is committed to enforcing laws already on the books is still an unknown, according to Martinez.
Source: Streetsblog,” NYC Has Laws Restricting Big Trucks on City Streets. Are Companies Obeying?” by Ben Fried, Aug. 2, 2013.