Environmental Protection

Solid Waste Group Urges Accident Prevention

The National Solid Wastes Management Association is releasing a television public service announcement as the latest component of its "Slow Down to Get Around" program.

The new ad encourages motorists to drive slowly when around solid waste/recycling collection vehicles and employees. This is an important message, as solid waste and recycling collection employees have one of the highest fatality rates of any job in the United States, and there has been an increase in the number of collection employees struck by motorists in recent years.

There are 136,000 waste collection vehicles on roads each day. Too often, distracted motorists on increasingly congested roads accelerate when approaching a waste collection vehicle. Driver-education programs universally teach drivers to slow down or stop when approaching a school bus, but it is not commonly understood that waste collection vehicles are similarly vulnerable as they also move slowly, make many stops, and generally are accompanied by men and women collecting and emptying waste and recycling cans.

During the last 12 months, at least six waste collection employees were killed after being struck in a roadway accident. Primary causes of these incidents have involved motorists distracted with a phone, excessive speed, and sun glare.

The association's General Counsel David Biderman, who directs the safety program, stated, "Too many families have suffered the loss of a loved one through this sort of incident. But we can reduce the frequency of this type of accident by educating the general public. We understand why such accidents occur. With some simple changes and better driver education, we can save many lives."

The association produced the TV ad with support from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This effort expands a program launched in 2003 by Rumpke Consolidated Companies, Inc., one of the nation's largest privately owned waste and recycling companies.

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