NYC waste reform has a dump-truck-sized blind spot
Many of the most dangerous vehicles registered to haul waste in the city won't be covered in new system meant to reduce deaths
Last week, school crossing guard Krystyna Naprawa was run over and killed in a crosswalk by the driver of a dump truck. She had done the important (and often harrowing) work for 13 years.
The circumstances of her death are remarkably similar to a number of deadly crashes across the city in recent years. Nearly all of them involve a specific subset of the private waste industry that has managed to evade serious reform and a vehicle type that is known to be especially deadly for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Seventeen people have died in crashes with private waste vehicles since 2019. When reporters (myself included) write about these incidents, we often lump in an entire section of the industry that won’t be required to conform to a new commercial waste zone system.
Those reforms, which would require some private waste companies to apply for specific collection zones, passed several years ago but are now mired in bureaucracy.
While private waste haulers operating as “licensees” (and therefore subject to the proposed zone system) were blamed for five deaths since 2019, the other 12 fatalities can be attributed to carters that haul away construction debris.
Those companies are known as “registrants” in the language of city bureaucracy, and they won’t have to play by the new set of rules proposed for the city to reduce fatalities.
Their owners often favor dump trucks with conventional or ‘long nose’ designs which severely limit driver visibility. All but five of those killed in crashes with city-regulated private waste vehicles since 2019 involved these type of trucks.
The city has gained increased oversight and enforcement abilities over the industry as a whole in recent years. But it is alarming that this side of private waste collection seems unlikely to see a big shakeup despite adding so many to the death toll.
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