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Pedestrian killed by truck driver without crossover mirrors

Written by Steve Gursten Posted May 13th, 2013

New York trucker ran over a pedestrian walking in front of his truck  – but the truck wasn’t equipped with crossover mirrors, as required by state law

crossover mirrors for trucks

This is a subject that is very near to my heart, after my own trial last November in a tragic truck accident death case where crossover safety mirrors would have saved the life of my client. And now, a horrific New York City truck accident also involving the lack of crossover safety mirrors has left another innocent pedestrian dead.

The New York police said it appeared at first as though the man was walking between two parked vehicles – one of which was a large semi-truck.  As in my case, the victim was directly in front of the large truck and could not be seen by the driver.  The driver proceeded to drive forward and ran  the man over, killing him.

Eyewitnesses say the victim was dragged under the truck for approximately 15 feet before the driver was flagged down and stopped.

The truck’s cab had New York plates. But unfortunately, the truck was not equipped with crossover mirrors, as required by New York law.  Because of the massive size of an 80,000 pound big truck, there is a very large blind spot directly in front of the cab.  Crossover mirrors are a simple addition designed to eliminate that blind spot. These mirrors are designed so that any person who is at least three feet tall (virtually everybody), and is at least one foot away from the front of the cab, can be seen by the truck driver in the mirror.

Crossover mirrors completely eliminate the blind spot in the front of a transport truck’s cab.

These mirrors are required by law in New York, as the blind spot in the front of the cab has contributed to a high number of pedestrian deaths in New York City. They are not required by law in Michigan or in many other states, but that does not preclude companies that prioritize safety to spend the $200 or so dollars to install these important safety mirrors.

And there’s a loophole in the law: The New York requirement only applies to commercial trucks which are registered and operate in New York City. Trucks which are not registered in New York are exempt from the law.

In the past two months there have been at least three separate pedestrian deaths involving large semi-trucks in New York City.  This begs the question – why are crossover mirrors not required on all commercial trucks? Further, why should such a simple and relatively inexpensive solution be limited only to trucks operating in New York?

The answer, at least to myself and the other Truck Accident Attorney Roundtable members, is obvious: it shouldn’t.

There are accidents of this nature all the time, all across the country, involving pedestrians in a truck driver’s blind spot.

Cases like the one that I litigated, where a pedestrian was killed in a crosswalk on bicycle by a large commercial truck in Michigan, are occurring every week in city streets across America.

And just as in my case where the truck driver maintained that he never saw the victim (an 83-year-old man),  if crossover mirrors were required on all commercial vehicles, that man would still be alive.

Of course, the driver still has to look. But for $200 dollars, it seems a small price to pay to save lives.  And a lot less than the $2.55 million the jury awarded in my trial in Macomb County, Michigan.

The FMCSA has yet to pursue a safety mandate for crossover mirrors, even though most of the safety systems and safety videos that are used to train truck drivers today, such as those by JJ Keller, emphasize that companies must install these mirrors and drivers must use them.

Requiring crossover mirrors on trucks could prevent literally hundreds of truck accident wrongful deaths.

We hope the FMCSA  takes note of the New York law and what safety training videos and materials being used by the trucking industry today are saying about crossover safety mirrors, and strongly consider implementing a federal equivalent of the New York law.

This is a smart step to  keeping our roads safe.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.