NEW BERLIN – The New Berlin Police Department conducted a commercial vehicle inspection in concert with a Department of Transportation Motor Carrier Safety inspection on Wednesday. Tractor trailers traveling along Route 8 toward the Village of New Berlin were instructed to pull into the Unadilla Valley Central School District parking lot, where the behemoth road cruisers were scrutinized and the drivers cautioned about the perils of driving on Route 8.
By approximately 1:30 p.m., four and a half hours after the detail began, 68 tractor trailers had been stopped. The vast majority of the vehicles were on their way to the Utica area, while only ten were headed to the Chobani Yogurt Plant in South Edmeston. Many of the drivers were also from out of state, from locations as far flung as Quebec and California.
“My job is to make my community safe,” explained Police Chief Dominick C. Commesso after disembarking from the side of a truck after checking to make sure the driver was alert and not too tired. Commesso sought to inform truck drivers of the dangers of Route 8 in the hopes that it will help prevent future accidents.
Rarely do the police actually see truck drivers speeding along Route 8, explained Commesso. In fact, in the police chief’s experience tractor trailers are most often seen doing 55 on the dot. However, even going the speed limit on Route 8 can be dangerous. If a tractor trailer driver does not realize he or she is heading into a hairpin turn quickly enough, then it is often too late; the driver experiences a load shift, and there's nothing left to do.
“I think this road was never designed for this level of traffic,” said Commesso. Yet he does not blame either the truck drivers or their employers for the elevated level of risk they face navigating the twists and turns of Route 8. “If they don't see the signs soon enough, then they don't stand a chance.”
Commesso recounted an incident which took place in 2011, in which a car drifted into the northbound lane on Route 8 and collided with an oncoming tractor trailer.