UNDER DISCUSSION

  • Making Trucks Safer

Time to Enact a Life-Saving Truck Guard Law

A state senator says a simple law could bring New York City a step closer to the mayor's Vision Zero.

You should know that New Yorkers have a chance to protect and save about 10 lives a year if our legislators decide to finally get a simple bill passed and signed into law.  This bill, known as the "Amar Diarrassouba Life-Saving Truck Guard Law" would require the use of rear wheel guards on certain trucks.

The need for this legislation became painfully obvious after the tragic death of 6-year old Amar Diarrassouba, who was fatally struck and killed by a truck on February 28, 2013 at the intersection of 117th Street and 1st Avenue in East Harlem, while walking to school with his older brother.

Less than one month after Amar's tragic death, I, as a member of the Senate Transportation Committee introduced S.4326 in the New York State Senate.  Two well-respected former New York City Department of Transportation Commissioners, Christopher Lynn, Esq., and Samuel Schwartz (aka "Gridlock Sam") both worked on drafting the language of this bill.  Both have publicly stated that this law would be a "life saver."

You should also know that ten months after I introduced the Amar Diarrassouba Life-Saving Truck Guard Law in the State Senate, 8-year old Noshat Nahian was side-swiped by a big rig and caught under the rear wheels while racing to school with his older sister on Northern Boulevard and 61st Street in Woodside, and died.  This tragedy might have been avoided if my simple piece of legislation had been passed and signed into law.

Like most people, it breaks my heart to hear about such tragedies. Both heartbreaking stories have been widely covered by New York's media, and I hope and pray that the outpouring of love and support for the grief-stricken families has given them some sense of peace.

Can you imagine the grief Amar's parents felt when they heard the news that their bright, energetic little boy was killed by a tractor trailer while he was walking to school?  And can you imagine the trauma the parents of Noshat Nahian were forced to endure this past December when they found out that their happy and loving son, Noshat, was hit and killed by a tractor trailer on his way to school?

As a public official, a minister, a parent and a grandparent, it outrages me to watch any responsible group of adults sit back and ignore practical and tangible ways to help protect innocent lives. It frightens me to think about how it is possible for the bureaucracy to grind on.

My dear reader, out of New York's 61 Senators, the following are the bill's current co-sponsors:  Senator Tony Avella, Senator Martin  Malavé Dilan, Senator Brad Hoylman, Senator Kevin Parker, Senator John Sampson and Senator José Marcos Serrano. 

Like so many New Yorkers, I am encouraged by Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero goal of bringing the number of traffic deaths "literally" to zero.  I am relieved to know that the "Amar Diarrassouba Life-Saving Truck Guard Law" to require certain trucks that operate within the city to be equipped with rear wheel guards is part of mayor's legislative agenda to fully implement Vision Zero. In order to provide the maximum amount of protection possible, I will be amending my bill to add side guards, following the city's recommendation.

Amar's parents, Sidiki and Meichata Diarrassouba, dearly hope that the legislation introduced last year in the New York State Senate requiring guards on truck wheels, will be finally approved.

Although the "Amar Diarrassouba Life-Saving Truck Guard Law" remains in the Senate Transportation Committee, I am hopeful that their voices will be heard and that my bill will become law.

Ladies and gentlemen, I urge everyone who reads this to contact their state senator and Assembly member and let them know that you want New Yorkers, and especially our children, to be protected so that no more innocent lives should be added to the list of fatalities that already include Amar Diarrassouba and Noshat Nahian.


Victoria Gillen

While this is admirable, it won't mean a thing without a real incentive for companies to actually make these (no doubt) costly modifications. While I agree that "cost" is not the point with a life-saving measure, it becomes the point VERY quickly when a vote comes to the floor - especially when you consider the populations involved. Consider: trucks are NEVER a problem in some neighborhoods. Which brings me to my second point: this won't mean a thing without actual, consistent, and vigorous enforcement. Currently, it is against NYS law for 53" tractor trailer trucks to travel city streets without a permit specifically allowing them to do so (check with Tony Avella on this...) Amar Diarrassouba was hit by a tractor trailer truck.   Noshat Nahian was also hit by a tractor trailer (driven by an unlicensed driver).

Beyond the rules governing size. NYC has designated truck routes... which are deemed optional in distressed socio-economic neighborhoods. Trucks are not a problem for, let's call them: "elite neighborhoods". They are, however, a constant problem, on may different levels, for "justice" neighborhoods. I beg you to supplement your proposal with a way to ensure that rules and regs governing trucks are properly, effectively, and consistently enforced. Otherwise, New Yorkers will continue to die under the wheels of commerce, and the net effect of your proposal will be a press release.



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