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Queens Chronicle

Bills introduced for roadway safety

Holden aims to prevent problems from cement-mixing and tow trucks

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Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 1:07 pm, Thu Feb 7, 2019.

Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) has been bothered for years by gravel and mounds of concrete spilled on roadways as well as speeding tow trucks.

Now he’s got a series of bills to do something about it.

Int. 1354 would require cement-mixing trucks to install certain spillage prevention equipment to avoid materials falling into the roadways. Holden says without the spillage bags, materials like cement and gravel can fall out of trucks and make for dangerous mounds and hazardous conditions.

“When driving around the city, it is common to find mounds of cement or piles of gravel and sand that can be hazardous to drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians alike,” Holden said in a statement. “Before these mounds cause any more accidents, damage to tires, fenders or other parts of a car or bike, or a trip-and-fall incident, requiring spillage bags on all trucks is a simple and easy solution.”

He noted that at a steep location like on Eliot Avenue it’s a hazard.

The bill is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), Peter Koo (D-Flushing), Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), Kalman Yeger (D-Brooklyn), Joseph Borelli (R-Staten Island), Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn) and Keith Powers (D-Manhattan) and has been referred to the Council’s Transportation Committee.

Int. 1355 would require police officers to inform and educate car accident victims about the city’s Directed Accident Response Program upon arriving at the scene of a crash. The DARP allows licensed tow companies to tow vehicles from public streets that cannot be safely driven after an accident without the prior consent or authorization of the vehicle’s owner. The bill would also allow for police to file a report and investigate any specific incident of tow truck chasing and potentially issue a summons.

The bill is co-sponsored by Councilman Mark Gjonaj (D-Bronx), Ulrich, Yeger and Deutsch and has been referred to the Committee on Public Safety.

Int. 1356 would create a 311 function on the app, website and telephone service that would allow for individuals to specifically report an illegal towing incident with video evidence. The evidence would then be sent to the NYPD for adjudication.

The bill is co-sponsored by Ulrich, Yeger, Gjonaj, Deutsch and Powers and has been referred to the Committee on Technology.

“Although DARP was created to crack down on the towing industry, the dangerous practice of racing to the scene of an accident is still a major problem,” Holden said in the statement. “I have personally been nearly run off the road by a reckless tow-truck driver more than once. These bills will help drivers understand DARP regulations and encourage them to report bad actors.”

Holden told the Chronicle, “It’s the last thing they’re thinking of when they go to a scene but it’s a very important step to try to get these companies penalized, fined or arrested because they’re obviously blowing lights to get there first.”

Regarding the DARP, Holden said, “I remember when I was younger they instituted these programs because so many people would die or big accidents would happen when these tow trucks were rushing to accident scenes. So these programs were supposed to stop it but obviously we still have some tow companies that are still chasing.”

He added the tow-truck issue was a “pet peeve” of his and one he highlighted as president of the Juniper Park Civic.

Holden recalled one incident when he was in his Mini Cooper and a tow truck going the wrong way nearly hit him.

“If it was half a second earlier I would’ve been toast,” he told the Chronicle.

The problem is the trucks are trying to beat the competition.

“That’s why they’re rushing through the streets,” he said. “This is a public safety issue.”

Holden has even asked the 104th Precinct to set up a phony accident by putting out a call over the radio and then having an unmarked cop car see who shows up. “And if it’s not the tow company that’s supposed to show up, then they fine them,” he said.

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