Increased accidents: Trash trucks around Tampa Bay get more cameras

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The video is clear.

The left side of the monitor reveals that the driver’s got a green light as he steers his garbage truck toward an intersection in Tampa, Fla.

On the right side of the screen, a camera in the cab shows the driver fastened in his seat belt, moving closer to the intersection as music plays from his radio.

Then the unthinkable happens. The monitor shows a vehicle running a red light straight into the path of his truck.

A split-second before he T-bones the late model crossover SUV, the driver is seen bracing for impact.

The crossover, now slammed out of the intersection with its air bags fully deployed, slowly rolls backward down the vacant street before coming to a stop.

The driver of the refuse truck, clearly concerned about the collision, keeps his composure and uses his truck radio to call in the accident as pedestrians walk to the crossover and his truck.

Cameras like these are becoming more popular in trash trucks in Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg as officials in all three cities look for ways to lower an alarming increase in collisions involving refuse trucks.

Of course, many accidents are not the fault of trash truck drivers, as the video highlighted above and released by the City of Tampa clearly shows.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, which posted the city’s video on its YouTube page, from 2014 to 2015 trash truck crashes in Tampa have risen about 42 percent. St. Petersburg experienced a 36 percent increase in garbage truck wrecks from 2013 to 2015. Over the last three years, the number Clearwater trash trucks wrecks rose from 34 to 58.

The accidents are not only dangerous, but costly to the cities that have to cover hefty expenses like medical bills.

The cities hope that by monitoring drivers with cameras they’ll be able to more thoroughly address drivers who pose safety concerns as well as reward others who regularly demonstrate good driving behavior.

St. Petersburg has plans this month to install two-way cameras in almost all of its entire fleet of 144 vehicles. The city’s union supports the cameras.

Drivers in the St. Petersburg vehicles will be able to use the cameras to record issues of concern, such as trash in alleyways.

About a third of the vehicles in Tampa’s Solid Waste Division have cameras on board. City officials contend that the footage gleaned from daily routes have helped provide lessons in improving driver safety.

There is anecdotal evidence suggesting that drivers who realize that they’re being recorded will be less likely to be involved in an accident. For instance, all of the camera-equipped Clearwater trucks remain collision-free.