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 ##http://gothamist.com/2013/02/28/6-year-old_boy_killed_killed_by_tra.php##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.

  • Driver

    There are several reasons for trucks to travel off the designated truck route, and it is a routine occurrence when making local deliveries.  Exercising due care while driving should be the same regardless of what street is traveled.   This accident could have happened on any corner, the designation of a truck route really has no bearing on how this accident occurred.  It’s not as if 116 St is some magical truck route oasis, where there are no pedestrians present.  Would having a truck of this size make three turns (left on Pleasant, right on 116, right on 1st Ave) somehow be safer than it making one turn from 117 St onto 1st Ave?  It theoretically should have been easier for this truck to turn from 117 St than from 116 St, as there is no oncoming traffic, and no room for vehicles to try to pass the turning truck in the intersection, which translates into fewer variables for the driver to deal with. 

    The truck route argument is probably not relevant to this situation.  E. 116 St is only a designated truck route to 1st Ave, not east of 1st Ave. Technically, (assuming the driver was delivering to a destination east of 1st Ave, likely the shopping center) the truck was probably taking the legal route, which is the most direct route back to the truck route, which in this case would be 117 St to 1st Ave.  E. 116 St is not a truck route between Pleasant ave and 1st Ave.

    As far as truck route enforcement goes, it is pretty much a joke.  Although many tickets are issued for off truck route, enforcement is not aimed at serious violators, but from what I can tell are issued at certain locations that are essentially low hanging fruit rather than problem locations.  In much of midtown, following the truck route is pretty much impossible because these are major intersections and often have turn restrictions. 

    Enforcement on truck lengths is not enforced at all based on my experiences and observations.  Perhaps it should be, but currently it is not, and many companies send large trailers into NYC to make local deliveries.  You can’t really blame the companies for this when it is pretty much accepted by the city.    

  • “You can’t really blame the companies for this when it is pretty much accepted by the city. ”

    Oh no, I blame the companies for this. I blame Gristedes. I blame CVS. I blame Dunkin Donuts. All of these offenders have supplies that would fit in smaller trucks dropped off by 18-wheelers that have to double-park in the middle of avenues and that have to offload cargo three-pallets-deep onto sidewalks and bicycle lanes – sometimes to a storefront that is barely 20 feet wide altogether.

  • “Carroll received only two summonses: failure to yield and failure to exercise due care.” This article is interesting. Lots of points and topics that could make a difference. It really does make you wonder how future tragedies could be prevented. 

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