Crossover Mirror Law in New York May Allow Trucks to See Pedestrians

In New York City, pedestrians see trucks rumbling though the city every day. Unfortunately, pedestrians themselves are not always similarly perceived by truck drivers. Pedestrian accidents almost always unfold in the same way: the driver of a parked truck checks his mirrors and sees no people or traffic in his way, and proceeds forward. What he can't see is that someone (often a child) is directly in front of the truck, but is too low to be seen over the front of the tall vehicle.

Beginning in January of 2012, these tragedies will hopefully become more infrequent, thanks to a bill recently passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Cuomo on July 18. The bill will require so-called "crossover" mirrors to be installed on the fronts of trucks, allowing truck drivers to better see what is immediately in front of them.

The bill will require crossover mirrors on all trucks registered in New York state which have a gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more and operate in New York City. Such mirrors have been similarly required on school buses since the 1970s. The cost to trucking companies will be minimal, as the mirrors and mounting hardware cost less than $100 per vehicle.

Legislators hope that the new law will reduce the number of pedestrian accidents caused by large trucks in New York City, which over the ten-year period from 1994 to 2003 resulted in nearly 5,000 injuries and hundreds of deaths. In fact, pedestrians account for nearly a third of all traffic deaths in the greater New York City metro area, according to safety advocates Transportation for America.

Despite the new crossover mirror law, the sheer number of pedestrians and deliver trucks in the New York City area means that accidents will inevitably occur. Truck drivers must be cautious, but so too must pedestrians-even when crossing in the crosswalk. A recent study indicates that approximately 80 percent of pedestrian deaths and serious injuries occur at crosswalks or nearby, and they frequently involve turning vehicles. Although it is always best to cross at crosswalks, pedestrians must be aware of the vehicles nearby, and be aware that their drivers may not be paying as much attention as they should.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a pedestrian-vehicle accident, talk to an experienced attorney who can advise you of your legal rights.