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EDITORIAL: Find ways to make LIE trucks safer

It took a flaming, metal-melting fatal truck accident on the Long Island Expressway to remind us that there are too many trucks on that much-maligned highway, involved in too many accidents and causing too much wear-and-tear on the road. The best solution - more rail shipment - is not yet politically tenable. But something has to give.

The core reality is that the trucks are an absolute necessity, if the Island is to receive the daily flow of goods that keep our lives going. We get a laughably tiny percentage of these goods by rail freight, compared with the national norm.

One idea to change that is pretty much dead: a proposed facility to receive rail shipments at the former Pilgrim Psychiatric Center, then transfer the freight to smaller trucks. The concept is sound, but the Brentwood community raised legitimate concerns about its impact on them, and the project is stalled. An Oyster Bay-Rye tunnel might get some trucks off portions of the LIE, but unfortunately, it's still a far-off dream.

The percentage of LIE accidents involving trucks almost doubled from 2002 to 2008. So we must go beyond hoping for long-term solutions - we need to act soon. Police should do more to keep trucks out of the left lane, where they are prohibited by law. We should also examine the feasibility of trucks-only lanes.

For now, trucks are our lifeblood. But they're also a deadly danger. To make us safer and save our roads, public officials must move as fast as a huge truck barreling down the LIE. hN