Private garbage trucks perform a necessary service, but some can wreak havoc on the roads, and even kill people.
Videos have captured trucks running red lights, making illegal turns and getting into accidents. The problem is particularly bad in New York City, where records show there were at least 45 fatal crashes in the last nine years.
Inside Edition hit the streets to follow private haulers. The worst incident the team witnessed was a driver that we followed for only 30 minutes.
First, the driver was captured making a wild illegal turn in traffic, and then he was seen backing down a one-way street. When he came to a red light, he blew right through it. He rolled up to a no left turn sign, then took a left.
Throughout it all, the driver's helper rode along illegally in the back, looking at his cellphone.
Inside Edition's Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero caught up with the pair when they stopped to pick up trash.
"Excuse me sir, I'd like to know why you are driving so erratically," Guerrero asked the driver.
He didn't say a word. Instead, he hopped back behind the wheel and drove off — leaving his partner behind.
"The truck you were on tonight was driving erratically," Guerrero told the helper.
"If you say so, I honestly was not paying attention," he replied.
"We have the video," Guerrero countered.
"I did not see it, I was too busy on my phone," he said.
Marco Conner of Transportation Alternatives told Inside Edition that many companies put extreme time pressures on workers, forcing them to cut corners on their routes.
"We have a private waste collection industry in NYC that is out of control," he said.
"We've seen some of these drivers, driving erratically, making illegal turns, going through red lights. Does that surprise you?" Guerrero asked Conner.
"No, it happens all the time and far too often," he answered.
Sometimes, the result is deadly. Madison Lyden, an Australian tourist, was riding a bicycle in Manhattan when she collided with a garbage truck last summer, leaving behind her devastated family. The driver pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
"Madison should've come home and told us about the best trip in her life and she came home in a casket," Lyden's mother, Amanda Berry, told Inside Edition.
Lyden's twin sister, Paige, added, “I can't describe that pain to spend 23 years with an identical twin sister and to hear in one moment that she's gone. It was worse than anything I could have ever imagined.”
Kendall Christiansen, executive director for New Yorkers for Responsible Waste Management, told Inside Edition in a statement: “Safety in the waste industry is a top priority nationally and locally for both private and city fleets; taking care of the city’s garbage and recycling is an essential service — every day and night — and companies work hard to minimize the risks to their employees and to the public while keeping the city clean. We work closely with the NYPD and other city agencies to constantly improve training and working conditions so that our workers come home safely."