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Good Question: What will change during the next travel ban?

February 04, 2019 02:37 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) --  It was a story that had many of you upset and made national headlines. A commercial traffic ban was ignored by hundreds of truck drivers during last week's monster storm.

Many of you asked News10NBC's Pat Taney two questions: Why was the ban ignored so easily and what, if anything, will change the next time a travel ban is announced?

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In the morning hours of last Wednesday's major snowstorm that impacted parts of the Thruway, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a big promise.

"We are not kidding about the tractor-trailer ban and bus ban," the governor said. "The fines are steep and you will be ticketed."

About an hour before that statement and several hours after the travel ban was announced, News10NBC cameras caught several trucks not only easily enter the Thruway booths in the banned areas, but pass by state police troopers without being pulled over.

One big rig heading was heading west on the banned part of the Thruway. The truck drove right by a state trooper patrol car in the median and was allowed to continue on.

Our video was shot just a few hours before a 19-car pileup happened on the Thruway near this same spot.

Pat took our video to the New York State Police and asked why that might have happened.

"Troopers used their discretion based on conditions," Beau Duffy, a spokesperson for the state police said. "When visibility is limited and conditions are apt to change quickly, pulling over any vehicle, especially a large commercial vehicle, can be very dangerous, not just for the trooper, but also for other motorists on the highway."

Duffy also said just because the trooper we witnessed allowed the truck to pass didn't mean that trooper wasn't taking action.

"Troopers communicated with each other along the highway about the vehicles traveling in violation of the ban, and made traffic stops where it was safe," Duffy said.

In fact, state police issued a total of 573 tickets to trucks or busses that violated last week's ban.

Cuomo said some drivers simply chose to ignore the ban after it was announced.

"This is a disgrace for these tractor-trailer drivers to be violating the ban and putting people's lives in danger," Cuomo said. "It violates their training."

Zoran Ivosevic, a truck driver from Canada, said there's no chance any truck driver could have missed the ban announcement. The signs were everywhere on the highways, both on the Thruway and at entrance booths.

Many drivers were also warned on communication radios in their trucks.

"We still all communicate over the C.B. and you couldn't have not known that part of the Thruway was off limits," Ivosevic said.

So what's going to change the next time a ban is issued? 

"We are going to be increasing the enforcement of the tractor-trailer ban," Cuomo said during a recent press conference.

He also also promised to increase fines and penalties in the future.

"The state police are going to be increasing the penalties for violating the tractor trailer ban and the bus ban," Cuomo said. "It won't just be a traffic citation. Under Vehicle Traffic Law § 1212, it could be a crime. Under the Penal Law, there can be a crime under section 120 for reckless endangerment and assault." 

The state is also working on a number of other things; one proposal would make changes at Thruway E-ZPass entrance booths.

"We're exploring whether or not the E-ZPass system can be used to enforce the tractor-trailer ban because the system signals that it is a tractor trailer," Cuomo said. "E-ZPass will tell us when you went on a road that had a ban and whether or not that truck entered that road during that ban."

Again, the governor said he is "exploring" that E- ZPass idea.

When Pat asked how he plans to explore it and if it will now become standard policy during bans, his office did not respond back.

If you have a question you'd like answered, send an email to goodquestion@whec.com.

Credits

Pat Taney

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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