NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Private garbage trucks barreling down the streets of New York are a familiar sight in the wee hours of the morning.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, New York’s largest haulers experience three times more crashes per driver than their counterparts in Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco.
CBS2’s Marcia Kramer took to the streets with the NYPD to figure out what’s behind the disturbing trend.
The trucks run red lights, reverse down one-way streets, speed, and sometimes do even worse. New Yorkers fed up with the rogue driving have taken to social media to post video of their close encounters.
The city’s twenty-largest private carters have been involved in 67 traffic crashes since March of 2016, according to a study issued by the Alliance for a Greater New York. The study also says drivers for commercial trash carters have killed at least 43 people since 2010.
Cristina Duran’s 27-year-old son was one of those people. He died after being struck by a private carting truck while biking home from work in Greenpoint, Brooklyn last July.
“I remember him a lot,” Duran said. “The driver never stopped.
Now, the NYPD is taking action to crack down on the out-of-control carters. CBS2’s Kramer rode along as officers in unmarked patrol cars followed private trucks on the Upper East Side early one morning.
Officers from the 19th Precinct say when it comes to finding carters violating the city’s traffic laws, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
“They’re in a hurry, they want to get done with their route,” Officer Aaron Blum said.
When Blum and Kramer asked one driver why he was observed reversing down a one-way street, he claimed he “missed a stop.” Drivers arge the six-night a week overnight shifts are grueling, with dozens of garbage stops spread across the city.
But will the drivers get in trouble if they don’t complete their route?
“Yea, I don’t make the route you know,” one driver said. “The company, he mad at me.”
As a result, some drivers say they cut a few corners to collect their garbage faster. Some of the illegally ride up on the back of trucks, but Captain William Gallagher says there’s just no excuse.
“That’s why you see so many people out here really enforcing the law,” he said. “It’s going to get somebody killed.”
In addition to moving violations, officers also inspect truck maintenance and issue safety violations ranging from issues with their lights to their breaks. The crew Kramer was travelling with found dozens of problems, with one truck even being taken out of service for faulty brakes.
“See how big these trucks are, they’re thousands of pounds that are going fast,” one officer said. “(It) could be a death sentence.”
The city is now looking to come up with a plan to reform private carting. The NYPD tells CBS2 the crackdown was so successful, issuing a total of 47 summonses, they will be launching a city-wide initiative next week.