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Private Garbage Truck Strikes Cyclist Amid NYPD Crackdown

A 43-year-old cyclist is in serious but stable condition after being struck by a private sanitation truck near Rockefeller Center at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 47th Street late Monday night, October 29, 2018.

Following the accident, the unidentified man was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital with injuries to both arms. The driver of the garbage truck stayed on the scene, and it is not yet clear if charges will be filed.

Sadly, accidents resulting from the reckless behavior of garbage truck drivers are far too common. Earlier this month, Alberto Leal was crossing the street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in a marked crosswalk when he was struck and killed by a DSNY sanitation truck which was going the wrong way down a one-way street. Back in April 2018, 74-year-old Leon Clark was struck and killed by a private garbage truck as he tried crossing the street in the Bronx.

These two tragedies are part of a larger trend. Just this week, NYPD began a crackdown on private garbage truck drivers who violate traffic laws or are provided with unsafe vehicles.

"Since 2016, we attribute up to 20 fatalities to vehicles associated with [the private sanitation] industry," said Terence Monahan, the New York Police Department Chief of Department. A study from the Alliance for a Greater New York says that commercial garbage trucks have killed at least 43 people in New York since 2010.

On the first night of this crackdown, 47 summonses for serious violations were handed out. In 2018 alone, 1,826 summonses have already been issued to private sanitation trucks, according to NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas M. Chan.

Part of the problem is the unorganized way in which commercial sanitation is handled in New York City. Unlike residential sanitation, which is managed by the government-owned Department of Sanitation, businesses in New York City choose their own garbage company from a pool of more than 250 providers.

This leads to a hectic system in which one block of businesses could be serviced by 4 different garbage companies, leading to a frantic coming-and-going of over 7,000 trucks eager to complete their grueling cross-borough routes in a reasonable time. This is another problem - the work shifts of private garbage employees regularly extend beyond the federal 11-hour limit on driving jobs, and sometimes take as long as 19 hours to complete, according to a report from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH).

These overly-long shifts are compounded by a complete lack of adequate safety practices. According to that same NYCOSH report, 93% of interviewed commercial garbage workers were not given any health or safety training, while 83% reported their vehicles are often or sometimes in unsafe condition.

None of this is meant to absolve the behavior of negligent garbage truck drivers who endanger lives by disobeying traffic laws in order to save time. A loaded garbage truck can weigh upwards of 20 tons, and the drivers of such vehicles have an obligation to their fellow New Yorkers to drive carefully, whether it's convenient or not. Hopefully, the ongoing crackdown from the NYPD will help to drive this message home and keep our streets safe.

But it's also important to keep up pressure on the private sanitation companies who subject their drivers to unsafe working conditions. But this does not happen often enough. This became obvious when it was learned that the driver who killed Leon Clark had actually killed another man, 21-year-old Mouctar Diallo, just six months earlier. Had that driver been suspended after the initial incident, Leon Clark's life may have been spared. But as is typical in the shadowy realm of commercial sanitation in New York City, nothing happened until it was too late.

We have written about this story before and will continue to until changes are made: New York City needs to prioritize the safety of its citizens, rather than the bottom line of private garbage trucks who are happy to sacrifice the safety of others just to make a profit.

Until that happens, Block O'Toole & Murphy is here to defend the rights of New Yorkers who are injured or even killed due to the negligence of private sanitation companies. Notable garbage truck results that we have won include:

  • $5,000,000 Settlement for the family of a mother of four who was tragically killed after being struck by a private garbage truck in Manhattan
  • $3,000,000 Settlement for a woman who was struck by a garbage truck while riding her scooter in the designated bike lane
  • $2,100,000 Settlement for a cyclist who was hit by a garbage truck which failed to yield the right-of-way while attempting to turn in Queens

If you or someone you love have been injured due to the negligence of a garbage truck, call 212-736-5300 to receive a free consultation - there is no charge unless we win your case.