Fleetowner 5109 Refuse1a

Survey data deployed to heighten trash truck safety

March 23, 2015

The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) hopes to use information gathering via a survey conducted last November by the Harris Poll to spur passage of state-level “move over” laws to protect trash truck operators.

“Americans need to know that when working around inattentive motorists, collecting waste and recyclables can be dangerous," said Sharon Kneiss, NWRA’s president and CEO, noted in a statement. “Drivers need to slow down to get around garbage trucks.”

She noted that the online survey of 2,012 adults ages 18 and older found only one third of them slow down near refuse vehicles, while nearly 40% said they were “tempted” to speed around them.

NWRA’s poll also found that most Americans believe that police officers and firefighters have deadlier jobs, despite the fact the waste and recycling collectors have higher fatality rates than these other public service professions, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.

Other findings from NWRA’s survey include:

  • Only about one-third (32%) of Americans said they slow down around garbage trucks. Far more Americans hit the brakes around ambulances (77%), police cars (76%), fire trucks (72%), and school buses (69%).
  • Less than one-in-ten (8%) Americans believes that garbage collection has the highest fatality rate when compared to firefighters (46%) and police work (43%).
  • Nearly nine-in-ten (88%) said they see garbage trucks on the road at least once a week, and one-in-six (16%) Americans see garbage trucks on the road every day.
  • Yet many of those polled said they are tempted to speed around garbage trucks more than any other kind of service vehicle, with nearly two in five (38%) admitting this. Distant second is a school bus (8%), followed by a police car and fire truck (both 3%), an ambulance (2%), and other service vehicles (8%).
  • Men are more likely than women to admit to being tempted to speed around garbage trucks they encounter on the road (42% vs. 34%, respectively).

For those reasons, NWRA is continuing to push for the creation of state-level “Slow Down to Get Around” or “SDTGA” laws to help protect garbage truck operators.

“We are making strides in various states to make these laws a reality,” said Kneiss. “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.”

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