Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe took part today in a ceremonial signing of House Bill 1649 that enhances safety for workers in the waste and recycling industry. This event kicks off public education efforts from the Virginia Waste Industries Association (VWIA,) a chapter of the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA,) as they urge motorists to become familiar with and obey this new law that went into effect on July 1. House bill 1649, also known as “Slow Down to Get Around” requires drivers to change lanes if possible or slow down to at least ten (10) miles per hour below the posted speed limit and pass at least two feet to the left of the stationary vehicles that are in the process of collecting trash or recycling. The new law carries a penalty of up to $250.
State Representative Ron Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach) championed this legislation and worked closely with VWIA chapter representatives to achieve this victory for the industry’s workers. Virginia now joins eight other states that have enacted Slow Down to Get Around legislation, including Wisconsin, North Carolina, West Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan and Alabama. Motorists are asked to be aware of this important change in the law and to exercise caution when they are approaching or are driving near a waste or recycling vehicle. NWRA is asking the media, public safety agencies and community leaders to help amplify awareness of the new law. “NWRA applauds Virginia’s lawmakers for enacting Slow Down to Get Around. This law will save lives, prevent on the job injuries and makes the roads in our communities safer. We hope the media and public safety partners in the state will spread the word to ensure all motorists are aware of and observing the new law,” said Sharon H. Kneiss, president and CEO of NWRA. “Increased awareness, combined with consequences makes it safer for our industry’s workers to get their jobs done as they serve Virginia’s communities.“
A 2014 Harris poll commissioned by NWRA found that although most Americans encounter garbage trucks on the road each week, only one-third of people slow down near them while nearly 40 percent are actually tempted to speed around them. The survey 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. “The safety of waste and recycling workers impacts all Virginia businesses and residents,” said Tad Phillips, VWIA Chapter Chair, and General Manager, TFC Recycling. “Our employees work hard in the communities we serve and need to be protected and kept safe. Virginia motorists must do their part by paying attention, driving safely and slowing down to get around.”
“SWANA is very pleased that Governor McAuliffe has signed this important bill into law,” stated David Biderman, executive director at the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), which supported the legislation earlier this year. Biderman added, “SWANA will help to increase awareness of this new law, and will continue its efforts to reduce accidents and injuries to waste collection workers.”
For more information, visit www.swana.org.