Dual Steering Systems: Enhancing Garbage Truck Efficiency and Safety

Amelia Taylor

Updated Thursday, May 23, 2024 at 11:08 AM CDT

Dual Steering Systems: Enhancing Garbage Truck Efficiency and Safety

The Necessity of Dual Steering Systems in Garbage Trucks

Garbage trucks are essential vehicles in urban environments, tasked with navigating narrow streets and tight corners to collect waste efficiently. One of the key innovations that aid garbage trucks in performing their duties effectively is the dual steering system. This system allows for steering wheels on both the passenger and driver sides of the vehicle, significantly enhancing maneuverability and safety.

The dual steering system is particularly beneficial in urban neighborhoods where garbage trucks often face maneuverability issues due to parked cars and narrow streets. By having a steering wheel on the right side, drivers can have better visibility of objects and obstacles on the right side of the truck, ensuring safer and more precise navigation. This setup is not only practical but also reduces the need for drivers to frequently move around inside the truck, which is crucial given that drivers may need to get out of the truck up to 400 times a day.

Enhanced Maneuverability with Rear Axle Steering Systems

In addition to dual steering wheels, garbage trucks often utilize rear axle steering systems to further improve their ability to navigate tight spaces. These systems, which are also used on fire ladder trucks and special long cargo trucks, allow the rear wheels to steer, enabling the vehicle to take tighter corners and even perform a crab walk for better maneuverability.

Rear axle steering systems can be either automatic or manual. While automatic systems adjust the rear wheels based on the vehicle's speed and direction, manual systems offer the driver greater control, allowing for active obstacle avoidance in complex environments. This flexibility is particularly useful in urban areas where garbage trucks must frequently navigate around parked cars and other obstacles.

Efficiency and Safety in Operation

The dual steering system in garbage trucks is designed to improve both efficiency and safety. By allowing the passenger-side steering wheel to be locked when not in use, the system ensures that the vehicle remains stable and secure during operation. This setup is especially useful in urban areas with tight spaces, where precise control is essential.

Garbage collectors usually work in pairs, with one person driving and the other working outside the truck. The second employee can help control the truck from the passenger seat or lock the steering and go outside to assist with waste collection. This collaborative approach not only speeds up the collection process but also ensures that the truck can be maneuvered safely and efficiently in different driving environments.

Global Applications and Training

The concept of dual steering systems is not limited to garbage trucks; it is also applied in other vehicles for enhanced safety and control. For example, in Germany, driving school cars often have a second set of pedals for the instructor and sometimes a second steering wheel. This setup allows the instructor to take control of the vehicle if necessary, ensuring the safety of both the student and other road users.

Linking two steering wheels to move in the same way is mechanically straightforward, making it a practical solution for various applications. In garbage trucks, this system allows drivers to use the steering interchangeably based on which side of the road they are collecting on. On main streets, the left side is used for driving for safety reasons, while the right-side drive is utilized in urban neighborhoods for better visibility.


The dual steering system in garbage trucks represents a smart and efficient solution to the challenges faced by waste collection vehicles in urban environments. By enhancing maneuverability, visibility, and safety, this system allows garbage trucks to perform their duties more effectively and with greater precision. As urban areas continue to grow and become more congested, innovations like dual steering systems will play a crucial role in ensuring that essential services like waste collection can keep pace with the demands of modern city life.

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