Did you know garbage trucks are some of the most dangerous vehicles on the road? These massive vehicles have large blind spots and spend lots of time backing up and making quick movements that put pedestrians, cyclists, and scooter riders at risk.

Garbage trucks roll through residential areas where people feel comfortable using the streets and sidewalks. All it takes is one wrong move or a short moment of inattention, and a deadly accident can happen.

Just Being Near a Garbage Truck Puts You at Risk

It’s dangerous to be in the vicinity of a garbage truck while it’s operating. A study of the nation’s garbage and sanitation trucks by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found scary facts about the dangers they pose. 

In a single year, there were more than 1,400 garbage truck injuries in the U.S. plus 107 fatalities. Just 25% of these fatalities were among sanitation workers and 75% were other people like motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.

The Solid Waste Association of America has been tracking garbage truck safety incidents for decades. They reported an unprecedented sharp rise in garbage truck accidents that began in 2019. 

When a safety watchdog group investigated the cause, they found it was mostly the garbage trucks’ unpredictable movements with possible impacts from distracted driving and fatigue.

  • Garbage trucks spend significant time backing up.
  • They stop and start frequently.
  • They accelerate suddenly.
  • They tend to operate in the early morning hours, often in darkness.
  • They stop in the middle of the road.
  • They block roadways and driveways.
  • Other drivers and walkers have a hard time predicting their movements.

Common Types of Garbage Truck Accidents

Back-up/back-over crashes are among the most common garbage truck accidents. These trucks spend a significant amount of time stopping near people’s homes, backing in and out of driveways, and turning to go the opposite direction on the street.

Pedestrians and cyclists are vulnerable to back-over crashes because they can be crushed instantly before the truck driver even has time to react. A person on foot has almost no hope of resisting the enormous impact of a rolling garbage truck.

Blind-spot crashes are also common. Trash trucks typically have blind spots that are at least 20 feet wide to the sides and rear of the vehicle. Their large side-view mirrors help, but it’s almost impossible for a garbage truck driver to see someone standing directly behind their truck.

After the sharp rise in garbage truck accidents began a few years ago, Waste Advantage Magazine published a cautionary article reminding the public and trash truck drivers about blind spot “no-zones.” The article points out that a garbage truck’s blind spots are even larger when doing certain things like:

  • Making a wide turn at an intersection
  • Extending bi-fold doors and loading arms
  • Operating in congested areas
  • Traveling along narrow roads

Here in California, we sure have plenty of congested areas and narrow roads! If you’ve ever watched a garbage truck winding its way down a skinny San Francisco street, you can see why it’s easy for accidents to happen.

The Dirty Truth About Truck Driver Negligence

Sanitation workers are contributing to the garbage truck safety problem. A study in New York City took video footage of trash truck drivers in their cabs and found numerous instances of drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

Sanitation workers, who usually work early in the morning, can be drowsy and inattentive as they drive. In some cities, they do double duty as snowplow drivers or street sweepers and may operate trash trucks in the early morning hours after long nights of other work.

And like anyone else, garbage truck drivers can be drunk drivers, drugged drivers, distracted drivers, and even road ragers who can’t stay calm enough to drive safely. They might do something that drastically increases the odds of an accident, like speeding, tailgating, or intentionally slamming on their brakes.

If you were injured in a garbage truck accident, reach out to the team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We’re very familiar with garbage truck accidents in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and across California. 

Don’t let the trash company get away with saying you don’t have a case against them. No case? That’s garbage! You deserve valuable compensation!

We Handle Your Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of personal injury claims, including garbage truck accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details. 

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.



Video Transcript:
Did you know that garbage trucks are one of the most dangerous vehicles on the road for bicyclists and pedestrians? This is due to the fact that garbage trucks operate in residential areas, where people feel comfortable to get out and walk, and ride their bikes.

And then the garbage trucks have these crazy blind spots, they’re backing up. They’re parked in areas that most people assume they’re not allowed to be in. So, this causes a lot of accidents, a lot of confusion. And in evidently garbage trucks cause an inordinate amount of deaths per year.
Accident Client

If you’re someone who is considering an attorney for a personal accident, I highly recommend Sally Morin and her professional staff of attorneys. If you would like to know more details, feel free to contact me via Yelp and I would be happy to share more details. While I use Yelp quite often, I rarely post reviews… unless I’m truly blown away by great service (or angry with horrible service). If there were a sixth star, I would certainly give it to Rebecca and Sally!

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We Handle Your Personal Injury Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including pedestrian and car accidents that involve speeding. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of San Jose and all of California. Contact us today for a
free online case evaluation.


It is essential to know your rights after a traffic accident so you can protect yourself and the value of your claim.
This guide will help you:

  • 1Know what to do when dealing with insurance claims, police reports and lawyers.
  • 2Avoid making mistakes that undermine the value of your claim
  • 3Put yourself in a position to get the best settlement possible