The average dump truck weighs in between 15,000 pounds and 37,850 pounds and the City of Albany garbage trucks, which have to handle trash pickup from so many residences throughout the area, often tend to hit the heavier end of that weight. They may carry a great deal of cargo at any given time, especially as they get to the end of their routes.
Those dump and garbage trucks provide an extremely valuable service throughout the Albany area, particularly since trash pickup can also handle a wide range of bulky items, recyclables, and even construction debris. However, despite the value of those services, garbage trucks and dump trucks may also pose an additional hazard on the road that can increase the risk for drivers in residential neighborhoods and near the Rap Road Landfill.
1. Dump trucks and garbage trucks often stop unpredictably.
As dump and garbage trucks travel through Albany’s residential neighborhoods, they make regular stops to pick up garbage. Sometimes, however, those driving patterns can seem entirely unpredictable.
The driver may, for example, drive past one neighborhood or street completely, then come back and pick up that street later as they progress through their route. They might skip a house or two, especially if those homes do not have trash set out for them to pick up. They might go directly to a specific house that has arranged for bulk or construction debris pickup so that those items can get loaded in a more convenient place on the truck.
Vehicles traveling behind them may contain drivers that have no idea what they will do next.
Those unpredictable actions can often significantly raise the risk associated with many accidents, especially if those drivers suffer from distraction.
2. Albany garbage truck drivers may grow distracted, especially after spending long hours on the road.
Working as a trash collector often means many hours on the road, handling repetitive, predictable work. Some garbage truck drivers may deal with boredom by allowing themselves distractions while driving.
According to the NHTSA, distracted driving includes any activity that takes your attention off of the task of driving, including tasks that take the driver’s hands, eyes, or attention off the wheel.
Garbage truck drivers may listen to music, chat on the phone, or engage in other dangerous behaviors, despite the known risks and potential penalties. In addition, garbage truck drivers often focus on noting and picking up garbage rather than the road around them. As a result, they may have a much harder time keeping their attention on the road and avoiding potential accidents.
Distracted garbage truck drivers may prove even more dangerous than the average distracted driver. Garbage truck drivers throughout Albany spend most of their shifts each day in neighborhoods, alongside slow speed limits and many children and pets, teens learning to drive, and tired drivers heading to and from work each day.
garbage truck driver may significantly raise the risk of an accident with those drivers or with pedestrians throughout the area.
3. Albany garbage trucks often contain precariously balanced cargo.
Garbage trucks come in several types, depending on their duties and the amount of cargo they need to carry. To streamline the process of loading and unloading the truck, however, they typically contain an open area where the trash goes into the truck.
Some loads prove much heavier than others. On bulk pickup days or when a homeowner has more trash than usual, a heavy load may end up on top of a much lighter one. Albany garbage truck drivers also have relatively little control over the balance of items in the truck in general, which means that heavy or bulky items may end up at the top of a much larger load. In a fast stop or turn, or even because of normal shifting as items move in the lower layers of the bed, cargo can shift abruptly and, in a worst-case scenario, even end up in the middle of the road.
Falling load accidents can cause serious harm to other drivers on the road. Sometimes, heavy objects may fall off the back of a garbage truck and onto another vehicle directly, especially if the driver does not take the necessary steps to secure the cargo and make sure it cannot fall out. Other times, the cargo may fall onto the road in front of another vehicle or create a hazard in the road that other drivers then have to drive around. If the garbagemen on the truck fail to note the hazard and remove it, it can remain on the road for a long time, posing a hazard to every driver who comes that way.
4. Garbage trucks have large blind spots that can make it difficult for Albany garbage truck drivers to see what goes on around them.
Garbage trucks, like many other big trucks, have substantial blind spots that can make it difficult for drivers to see everything moving around them. Garbage trucks also stop frequently and the driver may allow themself to check their cell phone, change the radio, or engage in other distractions while stopped, rather than keeping their attention on the road, those large blind spots can prove even more dangerous, especially on the streets of residential neighborhoods filled with pedestrians.
Garbage trucks have large blind spots around all four sides of the vehicle. Because of the bed and cargo, garbage truck drivers often cannot see behind the vehicle at all. Truck drivers may also struggle to see down the sides and even directly in front of the vehicle. Those large blind spots make it much more difficult for Albany truck drivers to avoid accidents, especially when runners, walkers, or kids get too close to the truck in residential neighborhoods.
5. Albany streets may suffer from a high degree of traffic congestion.
Sometimes, maneuvering on the streets of Albany can pose a unique problem for garbage collectors: the congestion on those streets may make it very difficult to navigate safely. Albany frequently suffers from a high degree of traffic, even during the day. During rush hour, even neighborhood streets may grow congested as an increasing number of people head out to work or come home from work.
Garbage truck drivers cannot finish out their shifts until the job gets done, since Albany residents rely on them to remove the trash from their cans and help them avoid excess debris around their homes. That congested traffic, however, can slow down garbage trucks, create more hazards for the truck driver, and make it more difficult for the driver to avoid collisions.
In congested traffic, garbage truck drivers may also suffer from additional levels of frustration that make it harder for them to keep their cool and continue to drive safely. They may try to speed to decrease the time they have to spend on the road or drive more aggressively as they attempt to get around other drivers. Furthermore, during high-volume drive times, Albany garbage truck drivers may have to contend with more big truck traffic around them, which can also raise the risk of an accident.
6. When maintenance on Albany garbage trucks falls behind, it can result in serious hazards on the road.
Albany garbage collection services must, like any other trucking company or commercial firm, carefully maintain their trucks so they do not pose hazards. Unfortunately, the company may, in some cases, send trucks out on the road in need of maintenance, including trucks with known brake or steering problems. Failing to take care of needed maintenance can make garbage trucks much more dangerous since the inability to control the garbage truck can make it impossible for even the best driver to avoid potential hazards.
When it comes to garbage trucks, maintaining the bed and the lift on the bed can prove critical. If the bed gets stuck or does not lower properly, it could lead to an increased risk of falling debris, including large objects that could pose a substantial danger to other drivers on the road. Failure to take care of that maintenance could leave the company liable for any damages suffered by drivers around them.
7. Inexperienced truck drivers, including drivers with new CDLs, may have a harder time navigating safely.
A trash collector’s job requires a lot of knowledge and skill. As one of the most dangerous professions, trash-collecting brings with it hazards alongside significant benefits, including a reasonably high rate of pay.
However, the truck driver shortage across the nation means that experienced drivers remain in short supply. Garbage truck drivers require even more training than the average big truck driver since they need to know how to handle the mechanisms associated with the truck and safely move the vehicle through residential neighborhoods in addition to the other skills required of any big truck driver.
Unfortunately, not every garbage truck driver on the road has those skills. To keep their trucks moving smoothly and avoid delays in trash collection, some garbage companies may hire inexperienced truck drivers who have not had the chance they need to fully develop the skills associated with navigating residential neighborhoods. Those inexperienced drivers may have a harder time maintaining safe practices on the roads, avoiding potential accidents, and ensuring the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists around their vehicles.
8. Albany garbage truck drivers, like any other driver, may sometimes engage in negligent behaviors on the road.
In a perfect world, all drivers would follow the rules of the road at all times. They would keep up with traffic signals, never speed, and pass only safely.
Unfortunately, garbage truck drivers, like other drivers, sometimes engage in negligent practices on the road. They may grow frustrated with the slow speed they have traveled at in the past and pick up the speed to reach their destinations faster. They may ignore the rules of the road because they need to finish up their routes. They may ignore stop signs and even traffic lights to finish the run faster. Drivers may even engage in aggressive tactics, especially if other drivers fail to offer them adequate courtesy on the road.
All of those negligent behaviors can raise the risk of a serious accident with an Albany garbage truck, especially if the garbage truck driver engages in erratic, unpredictable behavior. Worse, garbage truck drivers who engage in those negligent behaviors can cause more serious injuries than other drivers who engage in similar behaviors due to the larger mass of the garbage truck.
Smaller passenger vehicles may offer little protection from the force of an accident involving a much larger garbage truck or even the debris falling from the back of a truck if the smaller vehicle cannot maneuver out of the way in time.
You may recover compensation for any suffer injuries in an accident with an Albany garbage truck due to the negligent behavior of the driver, the company, or the garbage collectors who travel with the truck. Do not attempt to handle that claim on your own. Instead, contact an experienced Albany truck accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible to learn more about your right to compensation and how to move forward with your claim.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.