Senator Fuschillo Holds Public Forum On Tanker Truck Safety

Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.

March 24, 2006

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), a member of the Senate’s Transportation Committee, today held a public forum to determine whether current safety regulations and enforcement policies for fuel and tanker trucks are adequate. Senator Fuschillo was joined at the hearing by Senator Michael A.L. Balboni (7th Senate District), Assemblyman Joseph Saladino (12th Assembly District), and Assemblyman David G. McDonough (19th Assembly District).

"Over the last year, we have seen incidents involving tanker truck accidents where lives were lost, homes were evacuated, and major damage occurred. Although these instances are rare, it is important to determine whether new protections are needed to keep our roadways safe," said Senator Fuschillo. "By collecting input from the experts, we can determine what the best methods are to prevent more of these accidents in the future."

The forum solicited input from federal and state transportation officials, highway patrol officers, the Nassau County Fire Marshall’s office, and local labor leaders as to what changes need to be made to existing policies in order to prevent these accidents from occurring.

Joesph J. Evans, Hazardous Materials Program Manager for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Eastern Service Center, offered the following in his testimony to the panel: "Every day there are more than 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials (hazmat) transported in trucks, including flammable liquids, such as gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating oil, and flammable gases like propane and butane. About 200 hazmat trucks each year are involved in fatal crashes and 5,000 in nonfatal crashes. Many of these are cargo tanks or tank trucks. Although these numbers are small relative to the totals of almost 400,000 involved in nonfatal crashes annually, the potential for human injury and property damage in hazmat crashes is much greater."

Representatives from Teamsters Local 282 stated the following during the hearing: "Tanker driving is very different from regular driving because you always have a shifting load. Depending on what you are carrying, i.e. Gasoline, oil, or some other dangerous chemical, this can be very dangerous. The weight of the truck is always changing due to the fact that you are unloading whatever you are carrying. This means your truck is always going to feel different, making sudden or abrupt maneuvers can cause rollover very quickly. So inexperience with this type of driving can be dangerous to the driver and public."

Within the last year, there have been several tanker trucks accidents both on Long Island and across the state. One such incident occurred along Sunrise Highway in North Babylon last June. Four people were killed and three others injured when a tanker truck carrying 10,000 gallons of heating oil was involved in a multi-car accident and burst into flames.

Other such accidents include:

- 3/17/06- A tanker truck strikes a minivan filled with four children and two adults from a Queens YMCA from behind on the New York State Thruway. Three children and one adult were killed as a result of the accident.

- 3/7/06- A portion of the New York State Thruway is closed for 12 hours near exit 18 (New Paltz) after a tanker truck carrying gasoline rolls over and catches fire. Two people are injured and homes within a two mile radius of the accident are evacuated.

- 1/17/06- A fuel tanker truck carrying a full load of 8,000 gallons flips over on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, causing an explosion and fire. Traffic is shut down on both the BQE and #7 subway line, and a temporary bridge collapses as a result of the heat generated by the fire.

- 10/5/05- A fuel tanker truck bursts into flames along Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx, killing the driver. Fire spreads to parked cars and causes portions of the Bruckner Expressway to be shut down.

CLICK HEREto view News12 coverage of the hearing.

CLICK HEREto read the Daily News article about the forum.