Truck Driver With Suspended License Kills Man on Midtown Sidewalk

Via Gothamist, Channel 7 reports that a truck driver who never should have been behind the wheel killed a man walking on a Midtown sidewalk this morning:

A box truck that apparently made an illegal left from Park Avenue
to East 50th Street collided with a pickup truck, which was northbound
on Park Avenue.

The force of the collision pushed the box truck onto the sidewalk, mowing down the victim.

Neither driver was injured. Both were tested and came up negative for alcohol consumption.

However, the box truck driver will likely be charged with driving with a suspended license.

This is basic public safety here. New Yorkers’ lives are at risk walking on the sidewalk. Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Kelly won’t say it, but people are dying due to preventable causes. So, which public servant is going to step up and start pounding the message that tighter traffic enforcement and more effective laws can save lives?

  • That’s only a couple of blocks from where I work. It’s just chilling to think that anyone crossing any street could be mowed down just like this.

    I remember that the NY Times did a study of all the homicides in the city over a 10 or 15 year period and something like 80% of cases, the person knew their attacker. Now, that obviously speaks to motivation of the attacker, but it also suggests that there are not many random, annonymous killings in the city.

    The exception seems to be the daily, random, annonymous homicides (person killing person) by motorists.

  • Glad it wasn’t me; I was driving a box truck in Manhattan this morning. My question is: with the economy so bad, who keeps a driver with a suspended license on the payroll?

  • clever-title

    It’s possible the company didn’t know the driver’s license was suspended. Has it been released whether his license was suspended for moving violations or failure to pay a fine?

    Not that the nature of the suspension excuses anything – the real shame of it is that a person is dead because of the negligence of another, and it’s unlikely to be prosecuted as a negligent homicide.

  • A FOIL request should be made on this crash and posted to the project.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I don’t know what can be done. The license was suspended. I guess all you can do is put in draconian penalties for driving with a suspended license. What are the penalties.

  • Legislation has been introduced in the NYS Assembly to treat as a felons those who hurt people with driving without a license (they are not so treated now). I have written to my Assemblymember, asking him to co-sponsor it, and to my state senator, asking her to introduce similar legislation in the Senate. I intend to follow up on those letters, with a new one referencing this latest incident. Other folks should do the same. Sample text for letter to assembly member is here.

  • Is it too much to expect the owners of commercial trucks to regularly confirm that they’re giving keys to people that are licensed to drive? It’s the most basic requirement of safe fleet operation; we’d sure know what to do if an airline let an unlicensed pilot crash a plane.

  • Ian Turner

    Nathan,

    Actually, airlines used to be quite lax about confirming pilot credentials until someone started taking advantage of the system.

    This is not a phenomenon limited to transportation. A close friend, a lawyer for 25 years, said he has never once had a client ask to see his bar card. It’s an awkward conversation and employers would just assume avoid it unless they feel that there is no other choice.

  • annoymous

    that accident has cause so much heart breaking within my family because the man who was killed in that accident was my own uncle and we all have grieved so much and we never in a million years wished for something as tragic as this

  • His is an interesting case, Ian, but he wasn’t on airline payroll, flying planes, or crashing them. It’s a question of security thresholds, and that guy could clear just about any of them until they learned his description. I don’t doubt that an equally talented criminal could pull the same free flying trick today. Making false credentials is what counterfeiters do.

    But you don’t have to be a criminal mastermind to operate a commercial truck with a suspended license; you just keep your mouth shut. As a regulatory matter we should integrate licensing authorities with ground commercial vehicle businesses as much as we have those in the air, register licensed employees with the authority so that it can in turn notify the business if there is a suspension. A lot more innocent people are being killed down here than up there in crashes brought about by unsafe commercial operators.

  • Ian Turner

    Nathan:

    Actually Abignale had plenty of opportunities to fly aircraft, but he always turned them down by claiming that he had been drinking. Had he the desire there is no question he could have taken the helm any number of times. And actually, I very much doubt that he could get on board so easily today. Cockpit security is a lot stronger now; much as with the phone system or the Internet, in the early days of aviation nobody thought that security would even be an issue.

    The point here, though, is this: Employers will not do serious background checks on their employees unless (1) it’s required by law, by their customers, insurers, etc., (2) there were serious and well-publicized examples where a particular employer failed to do such checks with substantial consequences, or (3) they are exceptionally rigorous. (1) is rare, (2) is never going to happen because you can’t kill hundreds of people no matter how unlicensed you are, and (3) is by definition exceptional.

    The solution, therefore, is increased legal responsibility and tortious liability for employers who hire unlicensed or incompetent drivers.

  • Kaja

    > I don’t know what can be done.

    Bollards?

    I hate to one-word post, but this thread’s full of discussion of responsibility and liability; prolific deployment of bollards would make this impossible, and obviate any of the discussed concerns.

  • Ian, I didn’t ‘actually’ make the first claim you would like to refute. The scenarios and vulnerabilities of the frauds are different, and crucially, their motivations and risks. Before and after Abagnale’s exploits we regulated the airlines well enough that them somehow allowing employees to pilot planes on suspended licenses was simply unheard of. We should have done the same for commercial vehicles a long time ago. As for the second ‘actually’, your comparison to internet security is a little unfair to airlines. Active, profitable exploits on the internet run in the millions.

    I agree that liability/legal-responsibility is part of the solution. But regulation is part of it too; otherwise, the public is too sympathetic to commercial vehicle operators to demand tougher laws and enforce them in court. It would be easier for business compliance and more effective for the public if the state were involved in verifying credentials and sending out updates for suspended licenses. The whole thing could be done in a phone app: scan license barcode, check against central records, subscribe to status updates. With a serious regulatory process in place, the negligence of paying unlicensed people to drive your trucks would be a lot more plain to see.

  • Ian Turner

    Nathan, I think we’re essentially on the same page here, so no need to argue about the details of airline pilot screening.

    Cheers,

    –Ian

  • HI, 

    Its biggest information guys about that Truck Driver With Suspended License Kills Man on Midtown Sidewalk. 

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  • Very sad news. A man lost his life without any reason.

    Commercial Trucks

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