During a recent five-year period nearly 375 bicyclists — and more than 1,300 pedestrians — were killed in the United States from impacts with large trucks, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That number includes garbage trucks such as the ones used in Grand County and Moab by Monument Waste.
Now, Monument Waste is taking steps to prevent deaths and injuries by installing side guards on their fleet of eight garbage trucks.
Truck side guards are safety devices designed to keep bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians from making side-impact collisions with a vehicle’s large rear wheels.
According to Dan Kirkpatrick, the managing partner for Monument Waste, there have been no reports of injury or death to bicyclists or pedestrians in Moab due to one of his trucks, but it’s not worth the risk to run his fleet without them.
“We’ve been lucky so far ... with zero accidents,” Kirkpatrick said during an April 16 interview with The Times-Independent. “But with an area that is as bike-happy as Moab, we don’t want to risk it in the present or the future.”
Each of the garbage trucks used by Waste Monument weighs approximately 20 tons full and 14 tons empty, according to Kirkpatrick. The main danger to bicyclists and pedestrians is at the side of the truck, he added, noting that the majority of accidents happen on the passenger side, nearest the street.
“This is our effort to ensure that people are safe on the road when our trucks are out there,” Kirkpatrick said. “If there is a potential for a side impact, these guards will deflect them and keep them from getting sucked under the truck. This also prevents little kids in the neighborhoods we serve from getting underneath the side of the truck.”
The funding for each set of guards is coming directly out of the budget of Monument Services, Kirkpatrick added.
From the City of Moab’s standpoint, both public works director Patrick Dean and Police Chief Jim Winder believe the addition of the side guards to the trucks will save lives. “Anything that will help keep the people of Moab safer is monumental, no pun intended, and with our high-pedestrian traffic and bicyclists that aren’t always watching where they are going, this will help prevent any major incidents and reduce hazards,” Winder said.
Winder echoed Dean’s comments, adding that he appreciates the level of maintenance that Monument puts into their trash vehicles.
“The addition of the guards are amazing because, if you look at Monument’s trucks, and people often think of garbage trucks as heavy equipment that is abused and clunky, these are highly maintained and are clean,” Winder said. “I can’t tell you how many accidents I have investigated over the years with heavy equipment that is out of compliance. Monument’s trucks are never like that ... they are pristine. So, not only are they maintaining these trucks to the highest standards, but now they are going the extra mile.”