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
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