Say the words “truck accident” and most people immediately get a mental picture of an 18-wheeled tractor-trailer rig barreling down an interstate highway and somehow being involved in an accident worthy of a Michael Bay movie. If that is your mental image of a truck accident, you might be overlooking a common type of truck accident that is likely to strike much closer to home — accidents involving delivery vehicles, garbage trucks, and recycling trucks. COVID-19 has resulted in a lot more people ordering items online, and pretty much every neighborhood in the country has residential garbage and recycling pickup. This has led to residential streets swarming with delivery and refuse collection trucks that are in a hurry to accomplish their rounds and that are a lot larger than most passenger vehicles. The drivers of these vehicles are not just driving – they are focused on staying on schedule while they are delivering packages or picking up trash or recycling. That does not mean every driver of these trucks is distracted and dangerous, but it does not make them safer drivers, either.
Delivery Trucks are a Lot Bigger Than Your Car
Size almost always comes out on top in a traffic accident. Bigger vehicles weigh more and pack more force in a collision. It is just physics. Larger vehicles almost always emerge from accidents with smaller vehicles with less damage, fewer injuries, and fewer fatalities. Delivery vans, such as those used by Amazon and other companies, often weigh 11,000 pounds or more. A garbage truck can range from 40,000 to 64,000 pounds. Either of those vehicles has a substantial size and weight advantage over your passenger vehicle, which weighs an average of 4,000 pounds and can weigh as little as 2,400 pounds.
Federal statistics for 2017 make it clear these vehicles can pose a significant hazard in your neighborhood. The stats show that vans or box trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds were involved in 1,885 fatal accidents and more than 22,000 crashes involving injuries. Included in those statistics is the 11,000-pound Mercedes Sprinter, used by Amazon, FedEx, UPS, Purolator, and other delivery companies. With the explosion of deliveries during the pandemic, you likely see them every day.
Further, FMCSA’s data for 2017 shows 107 traffic fatalities for that year involving garbage and recycling trucks, as well as more than 1,400 injuries. Garbage trucks are not performance vehicles; they are huge trash compactors on wheels. As such, they are large, heavy blocks of steel that likely will not yield an inch in a collision with your puny-by-comparison passenger vehicle. The threat they pose is not speeding, but the way they operate. Garbage and recycling trucks usually begin operations early in the morning, during hours of darkness. They start and stop frequently, and often have to stop in the middle of the road because there is nowhere for them to pull over. Hitting one of these trucks – from any angle – is unlikely to turn out well for anyone in the passenger vehicle.