The Perils of Highway Sweeping

It is a known and obvious fact that highway sweeping poses much greater risks than that of minor road and parking lot sweeping applications. Therefore, addressing common highway sweeping hazards and highlighting practical safeguards that can be implemented can make all the difference in reducing potential mishaps.

In an accident, there is a direct relationship between the speed, size and distance that an object travels at the time of impact. Bring the resulting damage to property and persons into the mix and you have one deadly combination, and working in a highway-type environment is an invitation for all of these things to come into play. There are other factors to consider, too, like low visibility at night, other motorists driving under the influence of alcohol or driver fatigue on the part of the sweeper operator.

So what is the solution to reduce the risk of accident? That depends on a number of factors, but there is one that remains constant. It is always in the sweeper operator’s power to do all that they can to safeguard themselves, their crew, the equipment they use and anyone on the road around them.

And there’s a lot out there on the millions of highways meandering throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico that cannot be controlled, so start with the things that are in your control. Proper sweeper maintenance sits at the top of the list, and that includes trained operators, proper supervision at a job site, effective lighting on the job site, as well as on any equipment that is used. An able body, capable of monitoring an always changing environment, and who knows how to direct a work crew accordingly, is crucial to every highway sweeping job.

Also crucial is working the worst case scenario into your assessment of any job situation. That often includes tractor trailer rigs that might be present when they’re passing a sweeping operation that is moving at approximately ten miles per hour. Not factoring in the extremes is often the cause of the severe incidents that occur over the course of each year when this type of work is being performed. Another unfortunate and perhaps the biggest issue plaguing highway sweeping is the other motorists whizzing passed the sweeper. Although you can’t change the habits of other motorists, you can at least attempt to control where, when and how fast they can operate when passing your crew and by controlling the moving pattern of the sweeping operation as best as possible.

Police presence is crucial on a highway sweeping job site. It has been proven that, psychologically, when a motorist views emergency lights like those of police cruisers on the highway they have a tendency to reduce their speed more than they do if just viewing general yellow flashing lights. That’s why it is so important that, at any cost, police units be present in addition to the standard use of arrow board and crash trucks spaced at a correct distance. Strive for a complete safety vehicle package that will slow the flow of traffic to the same pace as the sweeper crew when they pass them.

And exactly which sweeper is the best one to get the job done? You have options. The NH400-DX street sweeper with wet dust suppression from Nite-Hawk Sweepers is designed to handle the roughest sweeping jobs out there. The powerful sweeper can handle any challenge out there on the highway, be it glass, sand, gravel or weather, and the NH400-DX handles every job with maximum efficiency and performance.

Johnston/Allianz 4000 Street Sweeper from the modern, comfortable and well-appointed operator’s cab, to the toughest and most rugged mechanical sweeping system ever built, the 4000 is designed to take on the best of the best sweeping conditions to the worst of the worst which includes state highway sweeping, construction site clean-up, as well as road resurfacing application like millings and chip seal.

The Allianz 4000 is a hydrostatic drive machine that is also available in CNG alternative fuel and electric hybrid versions. In fact, the electric hybrid version is the world’s first electric hybrid street sweeper.

With highway sweeping, in most cases, you, the sweepers, are the ones being hit by passing vehicles, as opposed to the frequency of your vehicles hitting others. Moreover, the vehicles that hit a sweeping convoy can either be grossly underinsured or even worse have no insurance at all. This scenario leaves you and your insurance carrier at a disadvantage for potential recovery of injury and damages.

Hopefully the outcome of these practices will be an operation without incident. When you take the steps necessary to promote incident free work, the results come back to you in lower claims. This, in turn, results in lower insurance costs, both for your automobile and your workers compensation premiums.

There is a direct correlation between safe sweeping and higher profits. Keep everyone on the road safe and you’ll not only be saving lives but saving money,
as well.

Story by Megan McClure