Careless driving by motorists puts waste and recycling collectors at risk every day. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has named the refuse and recycling collector as the fifth most dangerous occupation.
Of all the fatalities for these men and women, two-thirds (67 percent) were the result of transportation incidents. Many of these incidents are caused by inattentive or distracted driving by motorists who failed to yield to refuse and recycling collection vehicles.
California has passed a law that requires motorists to slow down and move over when they see a waste collection vehicle on the side of the road.
A total of 23 states around the country have enacted “Slow Down to Get Around” laws. The statutes vary from state to state, but the laws generally require drivers to slow down and yield to collection vehicles, especially when the operator is emptying a cart or walking back to the truck.
Slow Down to Get Around laws are saving lives by requiring drivers to exercise caution and avoid distractions when they are approaching a collection truck.
The law requires that every driver stop and wait for school buses, slow down in construction zones and yield to emergency vehicles. The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) is educating drivers to do the same when they approach a garbage truck:
- Slow down when approaching a garbage truck making its rounds. Stop if necessary to allow workers to do their jobs.
- Look for workers before attempting to pass the truck.
- Check for traffic approaching from the opposite direction before proceeding around the truck.
- Avoid distractions like texting, talking on the cell phone, changing the radio station or programming a GPS while driving near a garbage truck.