A 67-year-old woman was killed recently when a private sanitation truck struck her. She had been crossing 86th Street near Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst at approximately 4 a.m.
The truck did not stop. According to the New York Post, it’s not clear whether the truck driver was aware they had hit a person. However, the truck dragged the woman for several feet, which was enough to sever her body in two. An investigation is underway.
This is the third pedestrian killed by a sanitation truck this year, the Post says. City data show that private sanitation trucks were involved in 12 fatal accidents last year.
That stretch of 86th Street can be treacherous for pedestrians. In 2015, the NYC Department of Transportation labeled the part of 86th Street between Shore Road and Shell Road a “priority corridor” for pedestrian safety. However, it is not clear that any changes have been made to the corridor since that determination.
Are private carting companies putting people at risk?
New York City is actively engaged in reforming the private carting industry. Approximately 90 of these companies operate in the city, according to the Post. According to a city comptroller report, between 2016 and 2018, there were 67 crashes – including five fatalities – involving just the top 20 of these carters.
In November, the City Council passed limits on their operation. Now, the carters have to operate within certain zones, which is meant to reduce the amount of time the trucks are on the road and reducing crashes. It is not clear whether this hit-and-run sanitation truck was operating in its assigned zone.
Commercial sanitation workers, the New York Times reported last October, are pressed hard to hurry. Inefficient routes and time pressure encourage drivers to flout traffic safety rules. Since 2010, there have been 28 fatal accidents – involving pedestrians, cyclists and even sanitation workers – blamed on private carters. Over the same period, city sanitation trucks were involved in only 7 fatal crashes.
The reform plan passed by the City Council is expected to reduce daily traffic by private carters by over half when it is fully implemented. It also includes new rules on safety, customer service and labor practices in the industry.
Based on this fatal hit and run, it seems that the assigned zones and other reforms have not gone far enough. It’s difficult to believe that a truck could strike a person and drag her hard enough to sever her body without the driver realizing they had hit someone. It’s more plausible that they knew they hit someone but succumbed to time pressure and chose not to investigate.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a city garbage truck or a private sanitation truck, have your case evaluated by an experienced personal injury lawyer.