Mirror Law Loopholes Keep City Pedestrians at Risk From Large Trucks

Loopholes in the state's crossover mirror law allow large trucks registered out of state to operate unsafely, and legally, on city streets. Photos: Brad Aaron

Following queries by Streetsblog, two state senators have pledged to address loopholes in a new state law that permit large trucks to be operated without safety mirrors, thereby endangering pedestrians and cyclists, especially children and the elderly, in New York City neighborhoods.

The law requires trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds to be equipped with convex, or “crossover,” mirrors — which allow drivers to see what, or who, is directly in front of them — when driven on NYC streets. But the weight clause exempts trucks that have the same cab configuration, and the same “blind spots,” as heavier trucks. And the law applies only to trucks that are registered in New York State.

The registration loophole lets companies that do business in the city but are based elsewhere forego the mirror mandate. One of those is Haddad’s, a Pennsylvania firm that provides trucks for film and television productions. Haddad’s set up shop in Inwood twice recently, for shoots for two TV shows. Of all the company’s trucks that would be required to have the mirrors if not for their Pennsylvania plates, none did. Haddad’s did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

The mirror requirement took effect in January, after crashes that claimed the lives of Brooklyn school kids Juan Estrada and Victor Flores in 2004 and grandmother Theresa Alonso of Staten Island in 2010. Support for the bill grew after 5-year-old Moshe Englender was killed in May 2011 by the driver of a meat truck as he rode his tricycle on a Williamsburg street.

“All legislation are works in progress,” said State Senator Marty Golden, who sponsored the bill. “We will look at the concerns and see if they can be legislatively addressed.”

Under the law, this truck should have crossover mirrors, which allow drivers to see what, or who, is in front of them. NYPD does not release data on summonses issued for mirror violations.

Crossover mirrors have been standard on school buses for some time, but it took years for Albany to apply the regulations to large trucks. Had the law been in effect, the mirrors would have been required equipment on the truck that struck Brooklyn cyclist Mathieu Lefevre in October 2011, according to attorney Steve Vaccaro, who is representing the Lefevre family in a suit against the truck manufacturer.

“Last year’s passage of legislation to require convex mirrors was an important step,” said Senator Dan Squadron, a bill co-sponsor. “However, gaps remain and I’ll continue to push for amendments and other legislation to ensure that pedestrians, cyclists and all users have every possible protection — when it comes to trucks and in general.”

As with many New York City traffic rules, enforcement is also an issue. An informal count conducted by the Daily News in April found many trucks in violation of the law. But the level of enforcement is not publicly available information, since NYPD summons reports do not itemize mirror violations.

Vaccaro says the initial bill was an invitation for trucking companies to skirt state regulations: “By writing this loophole into the crossover mirror law, legislators have given the businesses that use these trucks just one more reason to register and insure them out of state, while continuing to externalize and impose their various costs, including congestion, pollution, and crash risk, on New Yorkers.”
  • whyismycachealwaysclearing

    1- Cross over mirrors will do nothing to protect the public. You’re talking about professional drivers, they know a vast amount more about driving than you could ever hope to fathom.

    2- Rather than claiming that these cross overs will do anything, bear in mind that almost all trucks have flat hood mirrors equipped which allow drivers to easily see what is going on in front and to the direct sides of them.

    3- Rather than blaming it on the drivers, blame it on the dipshits that walk in front of a running truck, in gear preparing to move.

    Keep it up, NYC, no one will bring you food or goods anymore due to all the trouble of moving them in the first place. Professional drivers of all breeds will immediately refuse loads going to NYC about 70% of the time already, meaning it costs more and more for you people to get your crap. Continue over-regulating this industry in your area, and we will just stop hauling to that armpit of a metro.

    Lemee know how growing food on the rooftops, goes!

  • BornAgainBicyclist

    Funny how many countries many to enforce these and other regulations on trucks and drivers and still manage to be civil, safer places to walk and bike and drive, and yet still manage to have food and goods trucked in from all over the world.

  • whyismycachealwaysclearing

    1- Most major metros outside of the US are paying considerably higher prices for food (read: decent food) and even higher for dry goods and products.

    2- Your lack of respect for how 18 wheels will make you as flat as asphalt, shows how little you know, or care for that matter, about how your crap gets to you.

    3- Considering the population density of NYC when bearing in mind how low the truck caused mortality is, it’s a lot lower than most countries major metros. There’s room for improvement, but this isn’t the solution, and all NYC is doing is ruining small businesses, increasing food and goods prices due to higher cost of transportation and lowering the quality of driver in your city.

    “Lowering the quality of driver in our city, How?”

    Well, see, it’s really simple. Most smaller/medium sized companies employ primarily experienced drivers (guys with 5+ years of experience.) These are the guys you want navigating through NYC. But, since you’ve managed to over-regulate and over-complicate every single aspect of bringing things into your city, none of them will touch it.
    Owner operators, generally speaking, don’t touch NYC unless there’s damned good money sitting behind it.

    So what does all this mean?

    It means you have mega-carriers, like Swift and C&R England (there are several others) who are “driver mills.”

    This means they throw a brand new non-experienced, typically very young driver, into training for about 15 weeks. When he gets out, he’s thrown into a truck and set loose on the roads. It’s pretty likely that brand new driver wil see NYC quickly, because not only is he working for a mega-carrier (again, the only major forces willing to touch NYC at bare-bone prices) but he’s the lowest man on the totem pole. They guys approaching 1 year of experience can pitch a fit and get out of it, or have the brains to say their truck broke down in North Jersey.

    Why is this important? Because this new guy, is the one slamming into low bridges on parkways, and hitting pedestrians on bikes and on foot, hitting rail road trusses and causing you a lot of headache, and costing you a lot of money in repairs.

    Do you see the point here? The industry is so over-regulated in your area, by citizen consensus, no less; that you’re creating your own problems.

    There is a point where this goes too far, and you guys have clearly passed it.

    I don’t touch any NYC frieght, unless it’s moving at $6+/mile. And I won’t touch freight. I’ve not been to NYC in three years because of those two facts, and I doubt I’ll ever go back with those two facts in mind. And I’m fine with that. Plenty of freight moving elsewhere to keep me in business and sitting high on the stool.

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