The Trucking Association of New York said it supports the ban of tractor trailers on major highways across Western New York.
It said Tuesday’s 21-vehicle pile up which had a truck involved, is a perfect example of why the restrictions are in place. President Kendra Hems said the association is working closely with the state Department of Transportation, the Thruway Authority and the governor’s office and is spreading information over a multitude of channels to keep the industry informed.
“We can’t, nor would we defend any driver or company that asks their drivers to violate the ban and at this point it’s going to take this type of penalty to keep them off the road then that’s something that as an industry they’re going to need to be aware of,” Hems said.
At the same time, she stressed the importance of getting trucks back on the road as soon as possible. Hems said many drivers are independent contractors and whenever they can’t work they are losing money.
“Once this storm has passed and roads are clear, you know, we need to do everything to get those roads reopened to trucks as quickly as possible, because again, safety is a big concern but these trucks are the lifeblood of our economy. They deliver everything that we rely on every day and a 24-hour closure can have an impact that takes over a week to recover from in terms of getting those deliveries made and getting people restocked,” she said.
Hems said, for example, there are fuel trucks that can’t make their deliveries. She said that’s important during a polar vortex when people need gas for personal and emergency vehicles, plows, generators and even their homes.
She said they also deliver groceries to stores and raw materials to factories. If the ban goes on for too long she suggested plants may have to temporarily close down their assembly lines.
And that’s why she said it’s hard to put an exact number on the economic impact of an extended tractor trailer ban. When asked if it would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Hems estimated more.
The governor heavily criticized truck drivers Thursday morning for violating the ban and suggested those who violate could be criminally charged. State police are also making a concerted effort, ticketing drivers at toll entrances.
Hems said drivers need to realize the state is enhancing enforcement during this weather event and reiterated the safety of the drivers and the public remains the number one priority.
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