What Everybody Ought to Know about Street Sweeper Safety

Street sweepers are slow moving and easy to spot, but they could still be deadly. In 2012, a New York man was killed after crossing the path of a street sweeper and getting sucked up by the rear tire.

Street sweepers move at 25 mph or less and are not generally dangerous. However, they are loud, and their drivers sometimes wear earplugs, so it’s possible that these drivers may not hear all street sounds and pedestrians. While street sweepers rarely cause problems, there is still the occasional accident that reminds us why safety is important around these powerful vehicles.

Trust the Professionals

When you see a street sweeper in your community, rest assured that the person driving it has been fully trained. Training for street sweeper operators usually encompasses about 32 hours of lecture and hands-on training, covering the topics of:

  • Machine operation 
  • Troubleshooting indicators 
  • Preventive maintenance 
  • Repairs 
  • Safety requirements

Street sweeping companies require their drivers to complete an on-the-road training program with a trainer or to pass a standardized driving test. Some street sweeping companies even require their employees to obtain a commercial driver’s license, which involves extensive training as well. With all of this training, street sweeper drivers learn to:

  • Check for broken and worn parts 
  • Perform regular maintenance on the vehicle 
  • Ensure there is optimal space while driving

Street sweeper drivers are fully trained professionals. But a street sweeper is a powerful machine and requires a lot of concentration to operate; thus, street sweeper drivers may not always be aware of all obstacles in their way, and pedestrians may forget to practice safety while around street sweepers. Thus, when you see a street sweeper, stay well away from its path.  

Report Any Problems

Street sweeper drivers are taught to drive in a safe manner to protect the lives of people around them. Their safety requirements include:

  • Performing regular maintenance on the vehicle 
  • Wearing protective equipment, which may include boots and gloves 
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs while driving 
  • Not driving above the prescribed speed 
  • Staying clear of obstacles, especially pedestrians

An unsafe street sweeper driver is rare. However, if you see a street sweeper driver who looks like they’re driving recklessly, get out of the way and contact your city to report their unsafe driving.

Play It Smart

Staying safe around street sweepers is similar to other guidelines for pedestrian safety. If you follow these tips, you won’t have to worry about getting in the way of a street sweeper:

  • Don’t walk against the way traffic is going. 
  • Don’t jaywalk (cross only at crosswalks when the crosswalk signal is on). 
  • Like your parents always told you, look both ways before you cross the street. 
  • Don’t wear headphones because they could mute street sounds. 
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. Thus, don’t text or play games on your phone while you’re near traffic.

You might be saying to yourself, “I can text and walk at the same time. What’s the big deal?”  Unfortunately, that kind of thinking could get you into an accident when you least expect it. Play it on the safe side and be cautious around street sweepers and all other traffic.

Avoid Street Sweeping Tickets

While staying clear of street sweeping areas can keep you safe, there’s another benefit to staying away: no ticket.

Many cities fine residents who park in street sweepers’ paths because it prevents street sweepers from being able to complete their job. Pay attention to signs before you park in a street sweeping area-and avoid a hefty fine.

Street Sweepers: Powerful and Necessary

Surprisingly enough, there are several different types of street sweepers that clean up your streets. Some of the most common are:

  • Mechanical broom sweepers: primary street sweeper type in the U.S.; use a gutter broom to move debris from the curb and a water sprayer system to remove dust; effective for leaves, packed dirt, and sand. 
  • Regenerative air sweepers: use a regenerative air process to dislodge materials using air; contain a suction hose; able to pick up materials lodged in cracks. 
  • Vacuum sweepers: use gutter brooms to move debris into the path of a vacuum nozzle; best for removing debris from the gutter. 
  • Newer technology: refined versions of older technologies; powerful at removing dirt and debris but cost more to obtain.

Street sweepers are a needed commodity, especially in busy cities that frequently acquire dirt and litter. In the past, a street sweeper was an individual who would clean the streets with a broom and shovel. Imagine how much time and money was saved when street sweeping machines were invented!

When the New York man was killed by a street sweeper, it was a very unfortunate accident. However, the driver honked his horn for the man to get out of his path. The driver believed the man had cleared the street, until he accidentally fell into the vehicle. This reminds us that we need to be incredibly careful around these powerful vehicles, and stay as far away as we can so they can do their job without regretful accidents.