Recently, we covered the story of a serious garbage truck accident in Fairfax County that was allegedly caused by a reckless truck driver. Also this week, Fairfax County observed the 20-year anniversary of a deadly dump truck accident that killed four teens. Unfortunately, accidents involving dump trucks and garbage trucks are more common than you might think – both in Virginia and around the country.
What makes these commercial trucks so dangerous?
- Unpredictable behavior. Garbage trucks are not using the road for transportation like most other vehicles, they are collecting trash from a variety of places. This means that they are often starting and stopping suddenly, making turns, and rumbling down alleyways and narrow roads where other trucks don’t often venture.
- Distracted drivers. A garbage truck driver isn’t just working the steering wheel and pedals, they are also looking out for the other workers on the truck and sometimes working other parts of the truck. He or she could be thinking about the route, the next pick-up, or the schedule instead of the vehicles around him.
- Big blind spots. Garbage trucks are designed to efficiently pick up trash, not to be the safest vehicle on the road. Because of their large capacity and trash compactors, they often have large blind spots – blind spots that can be especially dangerous when they are pulling out of driveways and alleyways or stopping to pick up trash.
- Slow starts, stops, and turns. Again, these trucks are not designed to be great movers that turn on a dime; they are designed to do a tough job around town. Because of this design, they make wide turns and are very slow to stop. Every move your car makes, a garbage truck makes slower.
- Weight and size. Like many other commercial trucks, garbage trucks and dump trucks are much larger and heavier than other vehicles on the road. Not only does this mean that they are harder to maneuver and stop, they are also more dangerous in the case of an accident. When a garbage truck collides with a car, the garbage truck will win every time.