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Garbage truck hits pedestrian overpass

The driver of a garbage truck was on a highway, apparently unaware that the garbage box had become elevated during travel. The garbage box hit the side of a pedestrian overpass. The impact forced the pedestrian overpass off one support pillar, which was designed to be a "floating end." The other end, designed as a "fixed" end, did not dislodge. The overpass then fell onto the cab of the truck. As the overpass settled, the driver was fatally crushed.


Findings as to causes

  • The garbage box of the garbage truck became elevated during travel, unknown to the driver, and struck the overpass, causing the overpass to dislodge from its floating support pillar and fall directly onto the cab, crushing the driver.
Findings as to underlying factors
  • The driver drove three or four different vehicles whose control panels were similar but had significant differences. Because of inconsistencies in the control panels, he may have been reaching for the TOP DOOR switch but instead activated the TIP switch, which raised the box.
  • The applicable ANSI standard required either an audible or a visual alarm or both to warn the driver if the box became elevated during travel. The control panel on this truck was not manufactured with either a visual or an audible alarm, and the truck had not been retrofitted with a warning device.
  • The driver was at the end of a non-routine, overtime shift.
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Publication Date: Jul 2005 File type: PDF (583 KB) Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2005110210223