Connecticut senators push governor for longer weigh station hours

| 8/11/2005

In the wake of the tragic dump truck accident in Avon, CT, last month, two Democratic state senators are asking Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell to extend weigh station hours to help combat safety issues in large trucks.

On Friday, July 29, a 12-wheeled dump truck owned by American Crushing and Recycling careened down Avon Mountain on Route 44 and slammed into cars waiting at the intersection with Route 10. Four people were killed, including the truck’s driver, Abdulraheem Naafi, also known as Terrance R. Stokes.

Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, and Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, are asking Rell to keep weigh stations open for 12 hours a day.

“The governor has been very vocal recently on the issue of truck safety in Connecticut,” McDonald told Newsday. “Unfortunately, the measures taken by the Rell administration so far … address only a fraction of the truck traffic that exists on the roads of our state.”

Rell has already ordered the state’s Department of Safety to compile and publish a list of the top 25 safety violators in the state. Judd Everheart, a spokesperson for the governor, told Land Line that the move was in response to a heightened sensitivity from the public from the accident.

“The governor was concerned, in the wake of what can only be described as a horrific accident a week ago … that every step be taken to ensure total compliance with Connecticut’s truck safety laws,” Everheart said. “She directed the Department of Motor Vehicles to develop a list of the 25 companies that had the most violations over the past year, and sent out teams of inspectors to ensure compliance.”

Investigators said they have not yet determined what caused Naafi to hit the other vehicles. However, Department of Transportation records show that inspectors had found five brake violations on the truck during past inspections. All of the problems were corrected, according to Newsday.

American Crushing and Recycling, the company that owned the truck, also had 448 mechanical violations between 1994 and 2001 while operating as Wilcox Trucking. The company changed names after the state Department of Motor Vehicles suspended the registrations of 16 of its trucks because they failed to comply with a number of repair orders, a DMV spokesperson told Newsday.

Despite a number of violations, the company was not in the top 25 list of violators in the state.

“This was an individual truck, owned by one company that has had a number of violations over the years, but was not in the top 25. It was close – it was in the 30s,” Everheart said.

“It just highlights the fact that truck safety has to be an ongoing effort every day of the week, every day of the year. The governor is determined to make sure that compliance is guaranteed.”

Naafi’s own history is also being questioned in the investigation. The accident occurred just two days after he began working for American Crushing and Recycling – the day after he was fired from another trucking company partially because he could not operate the truck’s transmission, Newsday reported.

Under a third, unreleased name, Naafi had a criminal record that included a robbery conviction.

– By Aaron Ladage, staff writer