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A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

A few articles back, I touched on how technology is helping in the recycling business. I mentioned how just putting cameras in the large refuse containers helps the company know when they are full, what is being put in them, when, etc. Now another article from Waste Age covers a little more about the use of cameras.

“Video and telematics have become standard on many of today’s collection vehicles, changing how operators think about managing fleets,” the article started.

“Anyone who works with waste collection trucks knows how drastically technology has changed the roles and responsibilities of drivers and hauling companies in recent years. Thanks to the added emphasis on accountability, efficiency and preventive maintenance, video and telematics solutions have become standard additions to many fleets today.”

Through the use of telematics and video, the company’s staff is able to monitor vehicle performance and driver behavior. This allows them to provide additional driver training and/or vehicle maintenance where necessary.

“Safety is perhaps the biggest concern of business owners and fleet managers, and it’s one of the most critical metrics used to assess driver performance. Through the use of onboard cameras, technology providers have now created a platform that allows for improved monitoring and accident prevention.”

How effective is it? We find within the first year of fleets that start using a SmartDrive’s video safety program, there was an average of 59 percent reduction in distractions and 74 percent reduction in fatigue. Additionally, there was a 69 percent reduction in speeding and a 75 percent reduction in following tooclose distances.

The safety program also involves training in not making unsafe lane changes plus insuring drivers to get out and look behind the vehicle before backing. Although not a safety aspect, the onboard cameras on the trucks play another very important role.

When the vehicle is involved in an accident, the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” comes into play. It is known “the blame often falls on the driver of the large commercial vehicle – whether warranted or not.” However, the video provides indisputable evidence of what happened in the collision. Thus the “he said, she said” is not as effective as it used to be.

In a customer survey of companies using the safety program, nearly 70 percent cited “enhanced liability protection” as the most important function of the program. Even if the waste driver was at fault, disputes can be settled more quickly, thus saving the company valuable time, resources and costly legal fees.

My personal opinion on this article: While it may appear such cameras could be an invasion of privacy, I feel they are truly justified because they can also help these drivers. The drivers and workers on the garbage trucks and recycling trucks are some of the hardest working people you will find – working in all kinds of weather conditions and often handling materials most others prefer not to touch. As a whole, they are very dedicated, courteous individuals, even in some very trying situations.

Till next week, do have a great one...

--Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or e-mail

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666