POWER OF DATA BLOG

Meet Janelle: The Cone Destroyer

Choosing the Right Program, Featured
Nov 21/2016 Published by:

At the Waste Expo in Las Vegas last month, attendees were given the chance to try their hand at driving a Mack waste collection truck to see for themselves just how difficult a task it is. Lytx Segment Manager Janelle Seals accepted the challenge, not just to better understand what waste drivers contend with every day, but also to overcome a childhood fear of trash trucks.

“They make noise, they crush things – when you’re a little kid, they’re scary, and these drivers have tamed the wild beast!” she said.

Seals is responsible for helping people in the Waste industry understand the benefits of taking a proactive approach to safety. According Lytx data analyzed from more than 50 billion driving miles, 50 percent of collisions in the Waste industry are considered preventable.

More specifically, driver inattention – also known as distracted driving – is seen in 20 percent of driving incidents recorded, and Seals wanted firsthand experience to better understand the nature of the distractions in the cab.

Once she slid into the driver’s seat, Seals was struck by how complex the center console is, and how easily a driver might become distracted.

“There’s no dashboard, really…just buttons and knobs controlling the machinery,” she said. Waste drivers are constantly in motion, going from one task to the next, and now she understands how keeping safety top of mind can be a challenge.

Next, Seals shifted into drive – using a button – and began to drive through the parking lot at 4 MPH.

“There’s so much heft to the truck that it felt more like 25 MPH,” said Seals, marveling at how much power it must take to control the momentum of the truck when it’s full.

Visibility proved to be a challenge to Seals, too.

“When you’re seated, you cannot see straight down, so if somebody ran in front of the truck, it’d be very difficult to spot them,” she said, remarking that there were a number of blind spots to overcome.

Seals continued on the parking lot course, marked with cones, executing some simple maneuvers like turning a corner.

“I took the corner way too narrowly, and just destroyed every cone in my path,” she said. The sheer size of collection apparatus behind her didn’t factor into her turn, and she had to try it multiple times before she got it right.

Then – cue the horror movie music – came the backing up. Seals wiped out an entire colony of cones trying to get into what she thought was a very generous space.

“The truth is, I didn’t know where to look. There are mirrors scattered throughout the cab as well as back-up cameras, and I wasn’t sure which to trust. I used the display of the back-up camera, and I should’ve been relying on the mirrors,” she said.

When asked if she now had a greater appreciation for the distractions and challenges Waste drivers face, she smiled and nodded.

“These drivers,” she said, “are my heroes.”

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