Every year 258 million tons of waste is thrown away in the US and the majority of it is collected by refuse vehicles and recycling trucks.

From narrow residential streets to commercial premises, and waste handling and recycling sites, navigating roads and maneuvering refuse vehicles safely can be a tough challenge. Poor weather, inconsiderately parked cars, and narrow access are just some of the hazards drivers have to contend with on a daily basis.

According to data compiled by the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), the number of waste industry-related fatalities rose by 18% during 2017. The majority of these, over 60%, involved refuse vehicles.

Accidents involving trucks are commonplace and the waste and refuse industry is no exception. Blind spots, distractions and driver fatigue all pose a risk and increase the chances of accidents – particularly in the case of larger vehicles when visibility to the sides and rear can be drastically reduced.

For the waste management sector, the likelihood of an accident at work is three times higher than average and this includes crashes and collisions involving vehicles. Therefore, preventing serious injuries and fatalities is critical.

The introduction of road safety technologies in recent years has helped to combat the problems faced by those operating in the industry. In fact, with 94% of serious crashes occurring due to human error, technology is now playing a crucial part in helping to protect vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians, as well as helping to safeguard workers on waste management sites and prevent damage to equipment and property.

Corey Heniser, who is an expert on vehicle safety technology at Brigade Electronics INC, said: “Vehicle blind spots are a major factor in causing collisions. The complex shape and size of many commercial vehicles and machines greatly limits the driver’s visibility, making accidents much more likely.”

All round vehicle visibility has been proven to reduce collisions and improve safety considerably. And while mirrors have traditionally been used for detecting blind spots, they do not eliminate them completely. Research has shown that in the time it takes to scan1 four mirrors, assess and then react2 to hazards, even at speeds of 3mph a vehicle could travel as far as 32 feet. Corey explains the advantages of using road safety technology:

“Camera monitor systems, such as Brigade’s Backeye®360, is one example of how safety is being greatly improved. It provides a real-time surround view of the vehicle in one single image, eliminating blind spots and saving the driver from having to process information from several monitors or mirrors in quick succession, making it much easier to spot, assess and react to possible hazards.”

In addition to the elimination of blind spots is the requirement for more secure and safer working environments. When vehicles are involved in an incident, lack of solid evidence can often mean there is uncertainty and time-consuming issues to resolve. Research into the benefits of recording camera footage from vehicles has found it acts not only as a deterrent to potential vandalism, but also encourages driver best practice and peace of mind for passengers.

Corey continued: “Mobile digital recording is working to solve the issues facing operators by capturing footage from vehicle-mounted cameras. The recorded footage from the mobile digital recorder (MDR) is a valuable witness and offers irrefutable evidence in the case of an accident or dispute. This is particularly pertinent for the waste management sector where there has been a huge rise in false insurance claims in recent years.”

Of course, safety will always be a top priority. Corey added: "Saving and protecting lives is our single and most important objective. Keeping roads as safe as possible for everyone is absolutely key to achieving this. By utilizing the latest safety technology and solutions, we will help to protect and save even more lives.”

1 Loughborough University and MIRA Limited – The Development of Improvements to Drivers’ Direct and Indirect Vision from Vehicles – Phase 2, Department for Transport, DfT TTS Project Ref: SO906/V8

2 Source: Sivak, M., P.L. Olson, and K. M. Farmer. Radar Measured Reaction Times of Unalerted Drivers to Brake Signals. Perceptual and Motor Skills 55 (1982):594. 85th percentile.

Brigade Electronics is a worldwide market-leading provider of safety devices and solutions for commercial vehicles and machinery. Brigade’s range of products works to reduce the risk of collisions and protect vulnerable road users by minimizing vehicle blind spots and assisting drivers to maneuver safely. Founded in 1976 by Chris Hanson-Abbott OBE, Brigade Electronics introduced the very first reversing alarm to Europe and has been at the forefront of championing vehicle and plant safety ever since, pioneering new products, and developing and patenting new technology. Brigade’s product portfolio includes the Backeye 360º, camera monitor systems, bbs-tek white sound reversing alarms, ultrasonic obstacle detection, radar obstacle detection and mobile digital recorders. www.brigade-electronics.com/en-us/