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Business Integrity Commission

NYPD Says it Will Finally Crack Down on Rogue Carting Companies

Photo: Daily Mail

The NYPD has launched a weeklong crackdown on the "reckless" private carting industry — which has caused at least 20 fatalities since just 2016, police said.

NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said the citywide enforcement effort — which began Sunday night — was necessary because the private sanitation industry's "constant disregard for the law has proven fatal."

"We [have] found a staggering number of violations [such as] not yielding to pedestrians, traveling at excessive speeds, and going the wrong way on streets," he said. With such practices, he added, "these 50,000-pound trucks become death traps.

"We will not tolerate people getting being killed crossing the street," he added.

A recent one-night enforcement push in two precincts, yielded 47 violations, the NYPD said.

Monahan said he expected carting companies to "make sure their drivers are properly trained to obey the law."

"If they don’t," he added, "they will face consequences."

NYPD officers have been writing summonses to private carting companies — an increase this year of 182 percent over last year, according to Chief Thomas Chan, head of the NYPD Transportation unit — but there have still been four fatalities this year linked to the industry, he said.

And non-fatal crashes are up, too, Streetsblog has reported.

Chief of Department Terence Monahan
Chief of Department Terence Monahan at Monday's enforcement announcement.
Chief of Department Terence Monahan

Much of the recent attention to the industry has come after an Action Carting driver ran over and killed Greenpoint restaurant worker Neftaly Ramirez in July, 2017. Investigations by ProPublica and The Brooklyn Paper revealed the extent to which drivers feel pressured to drive recklessly so they can finish their routes quickly.

Any night owl will tell you that after midnight, the streets of New York City are often amok with rogue carting drivers, as this video and this video show.

It's unclear how serious the NYPD is taking the issue, however. Under questioning from reporters, Chan and Monahan did not offer specifics beyond saying that each precinct would dedicate one squad car to enforcement during the crackdown on the 120-company industry and its 7,000 trucks.

"We will be out there doing enforcement," Chan said. "We will talk about it at TrafficStat. And we will focus our attention on it."

The commercial waste industry trade association issued a statement saying it "welcomes the NYPD’s ongoing inspections."

"The waste industry makes safety a high priority – for our employees, and for the public – even as the very nature of waste collection is often dangerous," the groups New Yorkers for Responsible Waste Management and the National Waste & Recycling Association said in a statement. "Improving safety requires partnerships – we just held the fifth semi-annual Safety Symposium with the Business Integrity Commission attended by nearly one hundred company owners and managers. Most large-fleet trucks are now covered with on-board cameras, sideguards and other safety systems. Drivers and helpers are better trained in all aspects of their work, as are our mechanics. Overall, we’re constantly building a culture of safety."

The head of that commission didn't immediately agree.

"We have had enough," said BIC Commissioner Daniel Brownell. "Too many companies place profits and expediency over safety. They load up collection routes to save time and money…and the driver shifts are dangerously long. … It’s a recipe for disaster and the statistics bear that out.

"This industry must significantly improve," he added. "You are on notice that city government is watching you."

Brownell said he is still pushing for a bill that would give the BIC more control over enforcement of the industry. Earlier this year, the de Blasio administration announced an effort to divide up private carting routes by geography so that drivers would be responsible for smaller regions. That effort is still being finalized, a Sanitation Department spokesman said.

Story was updated at 4:47 p.m. to include a comment from the private carting industry.

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