Accidents, construction, rush hour, adverse weather and special events can cause roadway traffic to back up resulting in potentially dangerous driving conditions. These tips will help drivers stay safe in heavy traffic conditions.
By Will Flower

We have all been stuck in heavy traffic. As we inch along, frustration builds as productivity is lost. However, with planning, it is possible to avoid many traffic delays and heavy congestion. Before starting collection routes, drivers and dispatchers can use radio reports and smart phone apps to check weather and road conditions.
Some of the common causes of heavy traffic include:
• Rush hour—Many large urban areas have rush hours when main streets and highways are clogged with people traveling to and from work.
• Road construction—Lane closures, road closures and detours can result in traffic backups. Many road construction projects are publicized in advance giving drivers and dispatchers time to adjust routes. Additionally, the application of technology such as Google Maps and Waze can help identify alternative routes to avoid delays.
• Adverse weather conditions—Rain, snow, fog or icy road conditions can lead to a buildup in traffic.
• Sporting events, parades and other special events—Large numbers of people traveling to and from special events can plague roadways.
One strategy that the waste and recycling industry uses to battle against traffic congestion is early morning collection when traffic is light. Haulers should make certain that early collection is allowed as many municipalities have restrictions that prohibit early morning collection in or near residential areas.

Driver Safety Tips
Despite our best efforts to avoid traffic, there are times when getting stuck in traffic is unavoidable. For example, a highway crash may cause unexpected delays. Maneuvering a 30-foot, heavy-duty waste collection or roll off truck in bumper-to-bumper traffic is not for the faint of heart. The following are some driver safety tips when in heavy traffic:
• Keep a safe distance. Remember, braking distance for heavy vehicles is much greater than cars. Extending the space between you and the vehicle in front of you will help avoid rear-end collisions in case the vehicle ahead of you slams on the brakes.
• Avoid changing lanes unless it is necessary to move.
• Use signals to indicate lane changes.
• Use mirrors to ensure the space you are moving into is clear. Pay attention to blind spots before changing lanes or merging.
• Use sunglasses when needed to reduce sun glare and provide good view of the traffic ahead. East and West roads are notorious for sun glare either from the rising or setting sun. Drivers should adjust visors or wear sunglasses when needed.

In all traffic conditions, professional drivers must always expect the unexpected. Staying focused and proceeding with caution will help ensure the safe completion of a collection route. WA

Next month’s Safety Brief will discuss the safe startup of new and repaired equipment to keep workers safe.

Will Flower is the Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs at Winters Bros. Waste Systems. Will has 36 years of experience in the area of solid waste management and environmental protection. He has held operational and executive leadership positions at the Director’s Office of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Waste Management, Inc., Republic Services. Inc. and Green Stream Recycling. Share your safety tip. Submit your suggestions to Will Flower at will@wintersbros.comsafety.