Truckers Keep Killing and Maiming With Illegal Oversized Rigs. NYPD Keeps Blaming Victims.

A trucker legally prohibited from driving on city streets struck a man on Amsterdam Avenue and left him “likely to die.” True to form, NYPD issued no tickets and said the victim was at fault.

Video still of Thursday’s crash scene: WNBC
Video still of Thursday’s crash scene: WNBC

A truck driver illegally took his rig onto local streets and ran over a man on the Upper West Side yesterday. Rather than ticketing or arresting the trucker, NYPD pointed the finger at the victim.

[Update: NYPD ticketed this trucker for off-route and equipment violations, according to West Side Rag. Captain Timothy Malin, CO of the 20th Precinct, told the Rag the trucker would not be charged with a crime.]

The driver, whose name was concealed by NYPD, hit a 37-year-old man on Amsterdam Avenue at W. 81st Street at around 6:50 Thursday evening.

“I heard this big thump,“ a witness told WNBC. “We looked outside, the guy was laying out in the street. This guy was not moving.”

The victim was considered “likely to die.” NYPD declined to reveal his name and had no updates on his condition as of this morning.

WNBC reported that the trucker “continued up one block” after the collision. The West Side Rag said the driver “told police that he only found out he had hit someone when a crowd gathered at the rear of his truck.”

There is no permit that allows the type of tractor-trailer combo involved in yesterday’s crash to operate on city streets. The reason is that trucks with enclosed trailers that measure 53 feet or more are designed for interstate highways and can’t be operated safely where lots of people walk and bike.

But NYPD has little interest in keeping big rigs away from vulnerable flesh and blood bodies. Crashes are common. Enforcement is so anemic there’s a Twitter account devoted to shaming NYPD for it.

When a trucker runs someone over, the default NYPD response is to victim-blame. Captain Timothy Malin, the commanding officer of the 20th Precinct, wasted no time yesterday assailing the injured man, telling the Rag he was “extremely intoxicated” and “wandered into the back wheels of a truck.”

Malin said the driver “was deemed to not be at fault.”

Though the trucker’s presence on the street was itself a violation of traffic rules, the Rag unquestioningly repeated witness claims that the driver “had the right of way.”

Truckers in oversized rigs have killed no fewer than two people on the Upper West Side alone since November 2016, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog.

Both victims were cyclists. One of them, Abu Rifat, was also struck on Amsterdam Avenue, at W. 72nd Street. Police filed no charges and issued no summonses in either case. NYPD blamed Rifat for his own death.

The carnage caused by off-route truckers is preventable, but NYPD does not consider it a priority. The 20th Precinct issues a paltry seven or eight tickets to off-route truckers in an average month. To the north, the 24th Precinct had issued all of six such citations this year as of June.

  • Simon Phearson

    These things are everywhere now. I don’t know why the NYPD doesn’t crack down, because they clearly block traffic any time they attempt to turn off-route. Which is where I almost always see them, of course. Theyre a nuisance for drivers, in other words.

  • BruceWillisThrowsACar@You

    We will probably never see sufficient accountability or reform in this city’s police department in our lifetimes — even our NATURAL lifetimes.

  • walks bikes drives

    I see them constantly. I live on Amsterdam and most tractor trailer trucks I see are oversize. Between the oversize trucks and the garbage trucks and dumpster trucks off route on smaller streets, NYPD could make a small fortune ticketing them. It is so easy, lower hanging fruit than even cyclists in bike lanes at T intersections.

  • William Lawson

    Oh I have so many photos of these rigs blazing down 2nd Avenue without fear of enforcement. They are absolutely a direct threat to human life and that the NYPD has policy of ignoring them is just one more reason to disband the entire department and rebuild it from the ground up, with different people and revised standards.

    Aside from the human risk, the rigs create traffic chaos and congestion wherever they go in the city. I once walked 20 blocks or so down 2nd Avenue in the rush hour, and found myself walking alongside one almost the whole way. That’s how slow it was going, and the idiot behind the wheel blocked every intersection by driving into the box before it was clear on the other side, trapping the crosstown traffic. The whole vicinity was a chaotic cacophony of honking and yelling because of this moron, and it just got worse the closer he got to the bridge. Mothers with strollers couldn’t cross 2nd Ave because this fucker stradded himself across every crosswalk when the light changed. At 72nd st there was a traffic cop directing the traffic and I said to him, you see this illegal rig behind you creating chaos? It’s been going on since 86th. The cop just smirked and said “not my responsibility, that’s a moving violation.” Didn’t give a shit. Of course a competent, well trained traffic cop would have said “you know what? I can’t give tickets for moving violations but I see the trouble he’s causing so let me get on my radio here and summon the appropriate enforcement.” But nooooo…..they do not give a single shit.

  • HamTech87

    Hey NYPD: how about standing outside a bridge or tunnel and stopping these illegal trucks? Like shooting fish in a barrel.

  • William Lawson

    You know what’s even more like shooting fish in a barrel? Blitzing cyclists with tickets. These barrels of fish compete for the NYPD’s severely stunted attention and the easiest fish to shoot will always win. Stopping a cyclist versus stopping a 53′ rig? The threat to human life doesn’t even figure in the NYPD’s calculations. All that matters is how many tickets they can issue per hour to make themselves look good.

  • Joe R.

    It’s not even about how many tickets per hour they can issue. Rather, it’s all about asserting their dominance over groups they dislike. Cyclists and blacks top that list. A black cyclist? That’s a double win for the NYPD. Like you said, time to disband the entire department. They’re a bloated, arrogant organization who thinks they own the city.

  • MatthewEH

    Re: the 20 blocks down 2nd Ave story: so much hate. It’d cross my mind if the appropriate and judicious response would be to toss a Molotov cocktail into the truck’s cab.

    I swear I’m kidding, absolutely swear. Just to be clear.

  • Maggie

    Based on recent community board meetings, I don’t think the 20th Precinct has enforced the rule against oversize 53’ trucks illegally on surface streets in the precinct at all. I suspect those truck route violations are mostly enforced against commercial traffic encroaching on the genteel West End Avenue.

    Its easier to get in compliance if you’re going from West End Avenue to Columbus or Amsterdam Ave than from the Upper West Side to the interstate, but these illegal trailers cause congestion and have caused two deaths in one neighborhood alone. Whether by local police or someone else, for sure we need the rules to be enforced.

  • Frank Kotter

    What’s the connection between the Teamsters and the FOP? Is just being ‘union’ good enough for a pass?

  • robert

    For the 800th time TA should stop lying by omission. Amsterdam AND Columbus Ave’s are regulated and posted truck routes by the NYS DOT & federal. The is part of the interstate truck routes that run the length of Manhattan Island. Broadway is listed as a “local” truck route, meaning that id you are an 18 wheeler making deliveries or destination is in Man you can use that as well.

  • JD

    Having spoken to officers at the new community engagement meetings NYPD does, several officers at my local precinct have said that are not even aware that 53 foot trailers are a violation. They have never heard of this regulation until it was mentioned!

  • HamTech87

    But are there limits to the length of truck on the Manhattan truck routes?

  • HamTech87

    Seems like the answer is to pressure the precincts that abut bridges and tunnels. Here’s the map:

  • snobum

    Wrong. The truck must be less than 55′ in total – including the cab.

    “Trucks with 53-foot trailers may only travel on the portions of I-95, I-695, I-295, and I-495 that cross the city between the Bronx-Westchester County line and Queens-Nassau County line.”

  • Brad Aaron

    Who’s TA?

  • robert

    Truck was NOT covered by 53 rule as it was NOT 53

  • roberrt

    TA = Transportation Alternatives the bike lobbing group that operate this website and usually “forget” to mention details that don’t push their agenda

  • Brad Aaron

    You were saying:

    If I’ve been working for Transportation Alternatives all this time I need to see about getting paid. Thanks for the tip.