Behind the Industry’s Effort to Improve Driver Safety, One State at Time
Publish Date: 3/31/2015
David Biderman would like people to think of garbage trucks more like they think of school buses.
“You see a school bus and say, oh, there are kids around, I have to drive slower,” says the vice president of government affairs for the Washington-based National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) and a longtime safety proponent for the association. The goal is, “can we get people to think that way around garbage trucks as opposed to thinking they’re just an obstacle that they need to speed up to get around.”
The cornerstone of the association’s safety push is to lobby states to pass into law some form of its Slow Down to Get Around concept, which requires that drivers to be more aware and cautious around waste and recycling trucks.
Currently, five states have adopted such laws: Michigan, Wisconsin, Alabama, Florida and West Virginia. It’s on the radar in other legislatures.
“We’ve seen great progress in Virginia, Georgia and Indiana, and have introduced bills in several other states,” Biderman says. “We are confident that a slow down to get around bill will be signed into law in several states in 2015.” Kansas, Illinois and North Carolina are other potential states where there might be bills passed.
The Silver Spring, Md.-based Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) also has been supportive of the lobbying efforts.
The laws follow two basic models. One calls for higher penalties for drivers striking sanitation workers. In the other, drivers are required to slow down (for example, to 10 mph) or move over a lane when passing waste collection trucks.
Biderman says the preferred approach depends on a variety of factors. “Usually these bills are amendments to existing laws, and so the structure of the existing state law matters,” he says.
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