Why Commercial Garbage Truck Accidents Are So Dangerous

The rumble of a garbage truck on your morning street might be a familiar sound, but behind the seemingly mundane task lies a hidden danger. Commercial garbage trucks are massive, frequently operating on tight schedules, and can be involved in devastating accidents.

Several factors contribute to the high risk of garbage truck accidents. Here are some key ones:

  • Vehicle size and weight. Garbage trucks are giants on the road. Their immense size translates into tremendous force during a collision. A car simply doesn’t stand a chance against the momentum of a garbage truck.
  • Frequent stops and starts. The nature of garbage collection involves constant stopping and starting as crews collect waste throughout neighborhoods. This creates a hazardous situation, especially at intersections where drivers might misjudge the truck’s stopping distance or fail to see the truck altogether.
  • Blind spots. The design of garbage trucks contributes significantly to blind spots. Large rear compartments and side panels can severely limit a driver’s visibility, making it difficult to see cyclists, pedestrians, and even other vehicles in close proximity.
  • Driver fatigue. Garbage collection often starts very early in the morning, forcing drivers to work long hours under demanding schedules. Driver fatigue can significantly impair judgment, reaction time, and overall awareness, increasing the risk of accidents.

Common Causes of Garbage Truck Accidents

While unforeseen circumstances can play a role, many garbage truck accidents have common preventable causes. Driver error tops the list.

Just like any driver on the road, garbage truck operators can make mistakes due to fatigue, distraction caused by cell phones or other devices, or driving too fast for conditions. The stop-and-start nature of garbage collection routes can also lead to misjudged gaps in traffic or tight turns.

Beyond driver behavior, mechanical issues with the truck itself can contribute to accidents. Poor maintenance can lead to brake failure, tire blowouts, or malfunctions in the hydraulic lifting arms.

Other factors that may lead to an accident include:

  • Improperly loaded trash. This can also cause the truck to become unbalanced and prone to tipping over.
  • Improper backing up. As we mentioned, garbage trucks often have large blind spots, which can make it hard for drivers to see pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles behind them.
  • Failing to yield the right of way. This can occur at intersections, when merging into traffic, or when pedestrians are crossing the street.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is never acceptable and significantly increases the risk of an accident.
  • Poor road conditions. Uneven pavement, potholes, and debris on the road can all make it difficult for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles.
  • Inadequate driver training. Garbage truck drivers should receive specialized training on the safe operation of these large vehicles.

Consequences of Garbage Truck Accidents

When a garbage truck accident occurs, the consequences can be catastrophic.

  • Fatalities. Due to the immense weight and size of garbage trucks, crashes often result in fatalities, especially for those in smaller vehicles. Pedestrians and cyclists are particularly vulnerable.
  • Serious injuries. Even in non-fatal accidents, injuries can be life-altering. The force of the impact can cause broken bones, internal bleeding, spinal injuries, and severe head trauma.
  • Secondary hazards. Depending on the type of waste being transported, accidents can lead to environmental hazards. Spilled chemicals, medical waste, or even loose debris can pose a threat to public health and safety.
  • Psychological trauma. The emotional impact of witnessing or being involved in a garbage truck accident can be severe, causing long-term psychological trauma for those affected.

Experienced Legal Counsel

The team at Koenigsberg & Associates can help those involved in garbage truck accidents. We handle a wide variety of truck accident causes, including (but not limited to) those involving drowsy drivers, poorly maintained vehicles, unqualified drivers, and loose cargo accidents.

Get in touch online or via phone at (718) 690-3132 to request a case consultation.