Since Sunday, the NYPD making an effort to crack down on private waste hauling companies, which "roll around with impunity," in the words of police Commissioner James O'Neill. But despite the new enforcement initiative, one such trash truck driver hit a cyclist in Midtown on Monday, sending him to the hospital with serious injuries.
The cyclist, 43, was struck by the driver of a GPB Waste NY vehicle around 9:40 p.m. near Fifth Avenue and West 47th Street, police told Gothamist. The victim sustained injuries to his left arm and right leg and was taken to New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, in critical but stable condition. The truck driver received five summonses pertaining to the vehicle's lack of fire extinguisher and to the air levels in the truck's tires, according to the NYPD.
City Department of Sanitation trucks handle residential waste, but private sanitation companies cart away the garbage businesses produce across the five boroughs, sometimes beating paths of destruction as they weave across the city. A 2016 report on these services found that, since 2014, truck drivers dispatched by NYC's top 20 hauling companies had been implicated in 35 crashes (including two fatal crashes), and accrued 400 violations, the bulk of which—384, to be exact—stemmed from maintenance problems, like shoddy brakes and busted turn signals. Further, ticketed vehicles tended to undergo slapdash, insufficient fixes to get back on the road.
In 2017, a commercial truck driver hit and killed a woman crossing the street in Greenwich Village. This year, a driver for Sanitation Salvage, a Bronx-based carting company, fatally struck two people within six months, one of whom was an employee of the company, and the other an elderly pedestrian. (After public outcry, Sanitation Salvage's license was suspended.)
In June, a private garbage truck driver sideswiped nine cars, bringing his vehicle to rest on someone's front porch before hopping out and running away. According to the NY Post, 2018 alone has seen 1,826 summonses issued for private trucking violations (Monday night's wrist slaps excluded), but so far, these haven't translated to improvements.
"In the middle of the night, trash trucks seemingly roll around with impunity," O'Neill said in a press release announcing the crackdown. "They often run red lights, cut off drivers, operate in bike lanes, and travel on the incorrect side of the road or go the wrong direction down one-way streets. When we do stop those trucks, they routinely have numerous equipment violations." Going forward, O'Neill continued, "Drivers can now expect to see the NYPD out in full force, ensuring that these companies and their truck operators adhere to the letter of the law."
The initiative comes after every private truck inspected during spot checks in the 19th and 62nd precincts in September turned up multiple violations. It's a joint effort by the NYPD and the Business Integrity Committee, and will involve police dispatching an extra squad car in every precinct "during the overnight hours on the first and third platoons" this week. On top of that, all units involved in truck inspection will be out examining the vehicles and issuing summonses. According to a spokesperson, stats from the crackdown will be available next week.