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Ngozi Agbim, 73, Killed by Truck Driver at Crash-Prone Brooklyn Intersection

According to reports, Ngozi Agbim was walking toward this truck when the driver ran her over. The trucker was cited for failure to exercise due care. Photo: Daily News

A senior was struck and killed by a truck driver at a crash-prone intersection in Brooklyn Monday.

At approximately 9:40 a.m., Ngozi Agbim, 73, was attempting to cross the nine lanes of traffic where Church Avenue crosses Ocean Parkway, at the terminus of the Prospect Expressway, as the truck driver was making a right turn. Witnesses told the Daily News the victim pounded on the truck before she fell and was run over by the rear wheels.

If the Daily News account is correct, Agbim was walking east on Church Avenue and the truck driver was westbound on Church before attempting the turn onto Prospect Expressway. That would mean Agbim was walking toward the truck when the driver entered the intersection.

Agbim, who was on her way home from church, died at the scene. A retired head librarian at LaGuardia Community College, she is survived by her husband and three children, according to the Daily News.

The truck driver, Eric Turnbach of Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania, was cited for failure to exercise due care, the Daily News said. Church Avenue and Prospect Expressway are on a truck route, but trucks exceeding 55 feet in length are not allowed on surface streets without a permit. Video from the scene indicates that the trailer of Turnbach’s truck is 53 feet long.

In addition to Agbim, semi truck drivers have killed at least six pedestrians on NYC surface streets in the last 10 months.

It is not known if the truck involved in this crash was equipped with crossover mirrors, which give truck drivers a better view of pedestrians who are directly in front of them. Trucks registered outside New York are exempt from the state’s crossover mirror requirement. We have a message in with Central Pennsylvania Transportation, the Lancaster-based company that owns the truck.

Read more…

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Citi Bike Member Packets Include Cycling-Near-Trucks Safety Tips

Yesterday we had a feisty exchange of posts between Charles Komanoff and Nicole Gelinas about what the city should do to enhance safety for Citi Bike users (and everyone else).

One of Gelinas’s main suggestions is to educate bike-share users about how to interact safely with trucks, and it turns that there’s a big graphic about this in DOT’s Bike Smart brochure [PDF], which is distributed to all annual bike-share members in the packet that comes with their key fobs. Word is that the city is looking into getting the same message across to daily and weekly users too.

It’s good advice for anyone who bikes on NYC streets. Here’s a look:

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How Green Is Grocery Delivery in Cities?

Grocery delivery can cut carbon emissions compared to driving your car to the store and back. But delivery services also replace walking, biking, and transit trips. Image: Transportation Research Forum

In a recent study out of Seattle, researchers Erica Wygonik and Anne Goodchild found that having groceries delivered by truck can cut mileage by up to 85 or 95 percent compared to driving a car. ”It’s like a bus for groceries,” Goodchild told NPR. ”Overwhelmingly, it’s more efficient to be sharing a vehicle, even if it’s a little larger.”

The most efficiency can be squeezed out of grocery delivery when dispatchers can design short routes that serve many people. When customers can choose their delivery times, however, the routes become significantly less efficient.

But in urban areas, where houses are close enough together that delivery might be relatively efficient, not everyone drives to the store. And people without access to a car might be the most likely to use a delivery service. In these locations, perhaps delivery services are replacing walking, biking, and transit trips more than driving trips.

It looks like more research is needed to evaluate the full impact of grocery delivery services on travel choices and carbon emissions. “We don’t have great data about how people get to the store,” Goodchild said in an email exchange. “We also don’t know to what extent these shoppers (bike/ped) might choose to shop online, versus those who drive to the store.”

She said she and her co-author have talked about conducting simulations where they consider biking “but would need to estimate calorie burn.” Yes, calorie burn — but hopefully not “increased respiration.”

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Mott Haven Residents Rally for Safe Streets and Truck Enforcement

South Bronx Unite and Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito rallied against deadly truck traffic in Mott Haven on Saturday. Photo: Stephen Miller

Early Saturday afternoon, about 25 people gathered at the corner of St. Annes Avenue and East 138th Street in the South Bronx, protesting heavy truck traffic and deadly driving in the Mott Haven neighborhood.

A series of pedestrian deaths in recent months and the lack of truck route enforcement from the 40th Precinct — as well as a city-subsidized Fresh Direct distribution center planned for the neighborhood — have many residents concerned about the safety of crossing the street.

On December 13, Ignacio Cubano, 69, was killed in crosswalk at 138th Street and St. Annes Avenue by a semi truck driver. On January 7, an elderly woman was critically injured crossing at the same location. Six days later, a taxi driver ran over a man at 138th Street and Brown Place. Most recently, on April 1, a hit-and-run SUV driver killed two pedestrians on Bruckner Boulevard at 138th Street. On Saturday afternoon, an elderly driver injured four people on the sidewalk near The Hub, a busy commercial area at the north edge of the neighborhood.

At the rally, convened by the environmental justice group South Bronx Unite, participants handed out fliers to people walking along the bustling commercial street. ”We walk these grounds with our feet — we hope that we can get safe streets!” the group chanted.

East 138th Street is designated as a local truck route, which means truck drivers should be heading to or from a destination in the neighborhood. But residents say many truck drivers use the street as a through route to Manhattan to avoid traffic on the Major Deegan and the Bruckner Expressway.

In 2012, officers from the 40th Precinct did not write a single ticket for truck route violations, while issuing 2,272 tickets for tinted windows over the same period [PDF]. Responding to a January letter from resident Monxo Lopez, the precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack, said that citations are often issued for tinted windows because officers need to see inside a vehicle during car stops.

At a precinct community council meeting in January, after the two crashes at 138th Street and St. Annes Avenue, McCormack told residents that “most of the victims are elderly, and they are making mistakes,” according to the Mott Haven Herald. In an interview last week with DNAinfo, McCormack noted that some of the victims were not using crosswalks.

“He has a 1950s mentality,” Lopez said on Saturday. “He’s blaming the pedestrians for their own deaths.”

Read more…

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Brooklyn Victim Is Third NYC Pedestrian Killed by Truck Driver in Five Weeks

The truck involved in today's fatal Brooklyn crash has New York plates, but does not have required crossover mirrors. Photo: Ian Dutton

Update: NYPD has identified the victim as 83-year-old Irvin Gitlitz.

Another NYC pedestrian has been killed by a truck driver, this time at the intersection of Flatbush and Fourth Avenues. The crash happened this afternoon.

The victim, a male in his 40s, was struck at around 12:50 p.m., and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to NYPD and a DNAinfo story. An NYPD spokesperson said the preliminary report “looks like [the victim] was walking between two parked vehicles.”

Streetsblog was alerted to the crash by reader Ian Dutton, who took photos of the scene. It appears as if the victim is in the street on Flatbush, slightly east of Fourth, and the trucker came to a stop in the intersection, with the truck’s trailer in the crosswalk.

One picture seems to indicate that, though the cab has New York plates, the truck is not equipped with crossover mirrors, which are designed to allow drivers of trucks like this one to see what is directly in front of them. Trucks registered outside New York are exempt from the mirror requirement, but trucks registered in New York State and operated within the city are mandated by law to have them. Trucks exceeding 55 feet in length, as this one appears to be, are not allowed on surface streets without a permit.

NYPD had no information regarding summonses, and the spokesperson said the investigation is ongoing.

Read more…

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London Cycling Group Proposes a Safer Urban Truck

Images: London Cycling Campaign

In the last few weeks, truck drivers have taken the lives of at least two NYC pedestrians: a 6-year-old child and a 60-year-old woman. Though the physics of the crashes were different — one driver was turning, the other accelerating into a crosswalk — in both cases the driver was said to have hit a person he did not know was there.

NYC is not the only world city that suffers truck-involved pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. In London, trucks account for some 5 percent of vehicle traffic, yet their drivers are responsible for approximately half of all cyclist deaths, according to the Guardian. Most of those crashes involve construction trucks, with many resulting from a driver failing to see a cyclist while making a left turn.

At present, half the cycling fatalities in Greater London involve lorries, and about three-quarters of those vehicles are from the construction industry. A large proportion of pedestrian fatalities also involve lorries. Tellingly, the most frequent response from lorry drivers after a fatal collision is to say they didn’t see the victim in the moments leading up to the crash.

The London Cycling Campaign has proposed a new design for the urban truck — one that is lower in height, puts the driver closer to the street, and replaces “blind spots” with windows. The design is based on existing trash trucks, which are built with the safety of refuse collectors in mind.

“Already a common sight in town and city streets, these vehicles have the same low driving position and high-visibility cab seen on our Safer Urban Lorry,” write LCC staffers Charlie Lloyd and Mike Cavenett. “All we’ve done is to marry this type of cab with a lower chassis from a construction lorry.”

Read more…

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Questions About Truck Enforcement Linger After Amar Diarrassouba’s Death

It’s been a week since truck driver Robert Carroll ran over and killed Amar Diarrassouba at First Avenue and 117th Street in East Harlem, and although NYPD says its crash investigation is complete, the department has so far failed to address major questions about the legality of the truck Carroll was driving.

The company Carroll works for, McLane Trucking, may have sent a vehicle onto city streets that isn’t allowed anywhere in the city. The truck appears to be long enough to require an oversize permit to operate in NYC, but police have not said whether the vehicle was permitted. Carroll received only two summonses: failure to yield and failure to exercise due care.

NYPD says its investigation is complete, but there are many unanswered questions about the crash that killed Amar Diarrassouba last week. Photo: 1010 WINS via Gothamist

The day after Scott Stringer demanded action from NYC DOT while letting NYPD and District Attorney Cy Vance off the hook, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito sent letters to both DOT [PDF] and NYPD [PDF].

“It is my understanding that a truck this size is not even permitted to drive on our city’s local truck routes, much less a non-designated street like East 117th Street,” Mark-Viverito wrote to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. In the letter, she requested information about how crossing guards are assigned and enforcement data on truck driver behavior.

This morning Streetsblog sent inquiries to NYPD and DOT as to whether the vehicle has an oversize permit, and we have yet to receive replies. NYPD has also not responded to Streetsblog’s query about whether Carroll had NYC truck route maps in the cab and whether he was legally traveling on a non-designated route. (According to DOT’s website: “Trucks should only use non-designated routes when traveling between their origin/destination and a truck route.”)

Only very broad information about truck route enforcement is publicly available. Citywide, NYPD issued 6,458 tickets to drivers for truck route violations in 2012. (For comparison, police issued 95,866 tickets for tinted windows.) The 25th precinct, covering the area of East Harlem where Diarrassouba died, made truck route enforcement a bigger relative priority than the rest of the NYPD last year, issuing 275 truck route tickets.

Another enforcement issue raised by Diarrassouba’s death is the safety mirror loophole. The state law requiring crossover mirrors on large trucks, which allow drivers to see the blind spot in front of the cab, exempts vehicles registered out-of-state. McLane Trucking, the owner of the truck that crushed Diarrassouba, is based in Texas. NYPD and McLane have not responded to inquiries as to whether the truck is registered in New York.

NYPD said on Monday that its investigation is complete. But with all the unanswered questions about this case, the public is barely any wiser about what contributed to the death of Amar Diarrassouba and how future tragedies can be prevented.

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East Harlem Doctor: “Trucks This Size Shouldn’t Be on Residential Streets”

Melanie Canon, a doctor based in East Harlem, was the first person to aid 6-year-old Amar Diarrassouba after he has fatally struck by a tractor-trailer driver Thursday morning. The New York Times’ City Room blog published her wrenching account today.

The driver who killed Amar Diarrassouba was operating an oversized truck on a street that is not a designated truck route. Photo: 1010 WINS via Gothamist

Canon raises the question that the city’s tabloid press has been too fixated on an absent crossing guard to bother with: What are big rigs doing on city streets where children walk every day?

People often ask me how I keep calm in such dreadful situations, how I keep thoughts of my own child and her safety from clouding my mind. For me, the anger and sorrow come later, as I reflect on the statistics that tell us that accidents like this are preventable.

We now know that Amar was hit by a tractor-trailer turning from congested, narrow 117th Street onto First Avenue. The driver of that huge truck said he hadn’t seen the boy, couldn’t see him, from the high perch of his mammoth truck. He didn’t hear the sickening thud, either.

This is where I come back to my training – not my medical training, but my training as a mother and community activist — where my sorrow and anger will drive me to act, to join my community in pushing for change.

Trucks this size shouldn’t be on residential streets, especially as kids are walking to and from school. ?In this country, cars and trucks kill more children than guns do. We can do better, for Amar and for all of us.

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Trucker Kills 7-Year-Old in East Harlem; NYPD and Media Eye Crossing Guard

A 7-year-old boy was killed by a truck driver this morning while walking to school in East Harlem. While no charges were filed against the driver, police and media are focused on the actions of a crossing guard, who was reportedly on a break when the crash occurred.

Trucks over 55 feet are not allowed on NYC surface streets without a permit. According to reports, the truck driver who killed Amar Diarrassouba was driving on a street that is not a designated truck route. He was not charged. Photo: 1010 WINS via Gothamist

Amar Diarrassouba and his 10-year-old brother were crossing First Avenue at E. 117th Street, east to west, when, according to reports, the westbound driver of a tractor-trailer ran over the younger boy while turning right from 117th to First. The driver was stopped by witnesses some distance away. The Post writes:

“It was crazy. I saw a man chasing the truck on 119th Street,” said neighborhood resident Vinny Brasero, 49.

“I saw the boy, there was just so much blood, I knew he wasn’t going to make it. I couldn’t even get too close because when I saw he wasn’t moving and all that blood, it didn’t look good.”

The victim’s big brother was “hysterical, crying” at the scene, according to Brasero.

“I was crying a little bit because I have kids,” he added.

East 117th Street is a narrow, one-way street. It is not a truck route. Trucks exceeding 55 feet in length, like the one involved in this crash, are not allowed on surface streets without a permit. McClane trucking, which apparently owns the truck, is based in Texas. Trucks registered outside New York are exempt from the state’s crossover mirror requirement. It appears from a Post photo that the truck is not equipped with the mirrors, which allow truck drivers to see what is directly in front of them.

Of all the factors that contributed to this fatality — massive trucks allowed on city streets, a loophole in a state law, the truck driver’s failure to yield to two kids while driving on a neighborhood street not designated for trucks — reports say authorities are investigating why a crossing guard stationed at the intersection was not present at the time of the crash. Naturally, this is the detail the city press corps has zeroed in on.

While NYPD focused on the crossing guard, police defended the driver. From DNAinfo:

“Tractor trailers often have to make very wide turns,” said a police spokesman at the scene. “It’s possible, given the height of the vehicle and the kind of turn he had to make, that he just didn’t see the kid.”

Read more…

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Private Dump Truck Driver Kills Woman at 23rd and Madison

Photo: sabredutch via Gothamist

Gothamist reports that a private dump truck driver ran over and killed a woman this afternoon in Manhattan:

A woman was fatally struck by a private sanitation truck in the Flatiron district in Manhattan today. According to police, the incident happened around 12:26 p.m. at East 23rd Street and Madison Avenue. An NYPD spokesperson confirmed the woman was pronounced dead at the scene, but had little other information. Based on photos, it appears she was hit by a CityWide demolition and rubbish removal vehicle.

Update: According to the Post, the victim was biking east on 23rd when she was struck by the dump truck driver, who was “pulling out into traffic.”

Two things to keep in mind while we look into this fatal crash:

  • Private dump trucks have the highest pedestrian kill rate of any type of vehicle on NYC streets, according to the 1999 report “Killed by Automobile” produced by analyst Charles Komanoff [PDF]. Maybe someone with power and authority, like City Council Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca, should look into that and help to prevent more bloodshed.
  • There’s a law on the books requiring large trucks to be equipped with safety mirrors that let drivers see blind spots in front of the cab. However, the law also has some huge loopholes, including an exemption for vehicles registered out-of-state. CityWide Demolition is headquartered in Brooklyn. Among other aspects of the crash, Streetsblog will be looking into whether this truck was equipped with the special mirrors.

This fatal crash occurred in the 13th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to NYPD Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 13th Precinct community council meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 230 East 21st Street, at 6:30 p.m. Call (212) 477-7411 for information.

The City Council district where the victim was killed is represented by Rosie Mendez. To encourage Mendez to take action to improve street safety in her district and citywide, contact her at (212) 677-1077.