It's a sure sign that spring is here; Street sweeper trucks have begun their yearly cleanup of the rocks and dirt left on streets from the winter snow. But these powerful pieces of machinery should be treated with a healthy dose of fear and respect.

A few months ago a 44 year old man in Washington was killed when he was sucked into the back of a street sweeper that didn't see him walking behind the vehicle. According to the Bellevue Reporter, the man died after being pulled in to the machine.

Similar incidents have occurred over the years in California, Pennsylvania and even New York City. Besides killing or injuring people bus sucking them into the machine, a quick Google search will show dozens of incidents where cars wind up colliding with these large, slow moving sweepers.

Aside from a danger to people, street sweepers have also been known to damage property. The fast-moving bristles can kick up hard stones and rocks and send them flying at homes, parked cars and other personal property.

While it may be fun for kids to run out to watch the street sweeper roll down their block, it's probably best that they view from a distance or inside. Projectiles thrown from the street are potentially dangerous, especially to small children who are closer to the ground.

Most street sweeper operators are properly trained to safely maneuver these vehicles through your neighborhood without incident. And while the chance of injury to you or your property is low, it is important to remember to stay clear of these vehicles when you see them around your neighborhood and to slow down when approaching one on the road.

Now that the street sweepers have begin appearing throughout the Hudson Valley this is a great time to stay safe by remembering to have a healthy respect for the damage these powerful machines can actually do.

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