The refuse industry this year is ratcheting up its nationwide lobbying efforts to pass new laws requiring motorists to slow down when they approach a garbage truck on the street.
The results of a new public survey, released by the National Waste & Recycling Association, underscore the need for stricter traffic laws and higher penalties aimed at keeping trash collectors out of harm’s way on American roads.
The survey found that only one-third of respondents said they slow down near refuse trucks, and nearly 40 percent admitted they’re tempted to speed around the trucks.
Survey results also indicated the driving public underestimates the dangers that trash collectors face on a daily basis. In 2013, the industry’s fatal work injury rate was 33 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, making trash collection one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S.
“Americans need to know that when working around inattentive motorists, collecting waste and recyclables can be dangerous,” said Sharon H. Kneiss, president and CEO of the National Waste & Recycling Association. “Drivers need to slow down to get around garbage trucks.”
On the other hand, prospects for improving safety appear promising – if motorists become more aware of the problem.
Eighty-five percent of survey respondents agreed with the statement: “I am in favor of laws protecting garbage collectors on this country’s roadways.” Once survey participants were informed of the data on fatalities, 90 percent said they are in favor, with nearly half (48 percent) strongly in favor.
Five states – Michigan, Wisconsin, Alabama, Florida and West Virginia – have adopted “Slow Down to Get Around” laws.
“Through education and increased penalties for distracted drivers and careless drivers, the SDTGA movement will make it safer for the industry’s workers to get their jobs done in American communities,” Kneiss said.
For more details about the survey results, click here.