Denton resident Trish Laird almost hit a city garbage truck that was traveling in reverse two weeks ago, so when she saw the driver backing up again Monday on Malone Street, she grabbed her smartphone and took video.
The truck backed up for a half-block before she was ableto capture it backing another half-block — past the intersection with Linden Street and as two school buses passed by on the way to Newton Rayzor Elementary School.
Laird shared the video with the city and complained. Not only is the elementary school three blocks away, but First Baptist Church also has classes for home-schoolers on weekday mornings.
“There are children and parents walking and driving in the area,” Laird said. “It’s a very busy street at that time.”
About a year ago, she said another garbage truck driver was backing up in front of her house a few blocks away on Aileen Street. She called the city to complain and soon learned garbage trucks aren’t supposed to be backing up.
There are a few places, in commercial areas and some of the older areas of the city, where trucks have to back in, usually to lift the big, commercial trash bins.
“We try to prevent locating bins where we have to back up,” said Vance Kemler, the city’s director of solid waste. “We don’t like to back up.”
Some waste companies consider accidents caused by driving in reverse a cost of doing business, since they usually involve only minor property damage, according to a 2009 article in Waste Age, a trade magazine. But the accidents also be more serious. The article’s author, who worked for a California-based insurer, listed six such accidents from around the country that killed pedestrians, ranging from a 9-year-old boy who had followed a ball into the street to an 85-year-old man in a parking lot. Two others claimed the lives of helpers, one of whom was pinned to a telephone pole and another who was run over.
In this older Denton neighborhood, the residents all put their trash out front, Laird said, so she can’t understand why a driver would need to do anything other than drive up and down the street to pick up trash.
Kemler said that by the time he heard of the problem, including information that this wasn’t the first time the truck had been observed backing up, the driver’s supervisor had already viewed the video twice and counseled the driver.
The crew also reworked the route to solve the driver’s problem so he could make the pickups without backing up, Kemler said.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .