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Drivers Use N.Y. Rules at Kennedy Airport

May 23, 1993|JOSEPH W. QUEEN | NEWSDAY

NEW YORK — Warning to pilots at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport: New York drivers will cut off anything that gets in their way--including airplanes.

Airport officials say they are citing an average of four cargo truck drivers a day for violations including speeding across the airfield and cutting off taxiing jets.

Police officers of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the airport, acknowledge there have been several near-collisions in recent months--and say they're amazed there hasn't been a disaster.

The ongoing problem became such a concern last year that it prompted a bulletin about safe driving from Jack Gartner, manager of Kennedy's Aeronautical Services Division.

"There have been reports of driving at excessive speeds and outside the boundaries of the designated restricted vehicle service roads, as well as cutting off taxiing aircraft," Gartner said in a May 18, 1992, bulletin.

"Vehicles must yield to aircraft and emergency equipment," the bulletin said, and should not be driven faster than 20 m.p.h. in restricted areas. "In certain other locations," Gartner said, "the speed limit is 10 miles per hour."

Gartner warned drivers from cargo companies, airlines and government agencies to "please slow down and drive safely" on the airfield or face suspension or revocation of their airport driving permits.

Bill Cahill, a Port Authority spokesman, said that more than 15,000 drivers have airfield driving permits at Kennedy and each of them had to pass a training course that has been used as a national model in the aviation industry.

Port Authority police said that officers are trying to crack down on wayward driving by slapping offenders with violations. Cahill said that in 1991, authority police issued 2,287 violations at Kennedy, or an average of 6.26 a day; last year, officers issued 1,453 violations, or an average of 3.98 a day.

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