To address an increase in truck accidents in the area, the 104th Precinct conducted a truck enforcement operation two weeks ago.
From July 8 to Aug. 4, there were 36 motor vehicle accidents involving trucks, almost double the number of incidents that occurred during the same period last year.
While a majority of the accidents involved only minor property damage, officers were instructed to perform thorough truck enforcement throughout the command, focusing on corridors commonly used by trucks that are not designated truck routes.
According to a report sent out by the 104th Precinct community affairs office, the truck enforcement operation resulted in 81 summonses, a majority of which was for rigs driving on undesignated routes.
Other tickets were for improper or no bill of lading, a truck with an unlicensed operator, driving without a seat belt and other violations.
The issue of trucks driving on the wrong roadways is not a new one. Residents, elected officials and civic leaders have been reporting truck after truck ignoring route signs to avoid traffic on the Long Island Expressway.
In June the civic group Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together, which has been particularly vocal about illegal truck traffic, held a protest at the intersection of 64th Street and Grand Avenue.
Two years ago, the Department of Transportation implemented the Maspeth Bypass Plan. According to that plan, big rigs are supposed to get off the Long Island Expressway at 58th Street, turn left onto Rust Street and continue onto Flushing Avenue from there.
But instead of utilizing the bypass, many trucks that are not making local deliveries exit onto Grand Avenue from the LIE and continue onto Flushing Avenue.
Speculation on why truck drivers continue to drive along Grand Avenue has varied. Some blame the faulty DOT Truck Route online map which has not been properly updated to include the Maspeth Bypass, while others say drivers ignore the route simply because they can, especially since summonses often result in minor fines.
“Summonses are issued, but most of the time they’re just a slap on the wrist,” COMET President Roe Daraio said in a previous interview. “What we’re looking for is better signage and for the NYPD to provide the 104th Precinct with support units that are trained and equipped to conduct full-scale motor carrier truck enforcement. Not just every once in a while, we want it on a regular basis.”
Det. Thomas Bell of the 104th Precinct community affairs office said that officers are always conducting truck enforcement operations in the area but do not always have access to the heavy-duty tow operators used to remove illegally parked rigs. There were five trucks towed utilizing the Department Heavy Duty Tow.
With the increased truck activity, it is unclear whether the NYPD will increase tow services to the 104th Precinct to deter illegal truck parking and driving.