Lawmaker Seeks to Improve Public Safety for Waste Management and Recycling Drivers and Riders

State Rep. James Arciero recently testified before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary on House Bill 1330: An Act Relative To Speed Limitations Near Waste Or Recycling Collection, a measure he filed, commonly called the Slow Down to Get Around law.

“While we may not think about it, those individuals engaged in this industry are continually at risk of being hit, both in their vehicles and when disembarking and returning to their trucks as they collect our trash.  Ranking right behind the dangerous jobs of loggers, fishers, aircraft pilots and roofers, they suffer a high rate of fatal work injuries according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” said Arciero, who sponsored and filed the bill with several other members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.  At least 23 states have enacted a form of the Slow Down To Get Around law, and this is the second attempt to pass the measure in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

“As drivers, we know we have to stop for school buses as they let children get on and off the bus, and we know we have to pull over for police, fire and emergency vehicles when they are performing their valuable service to society, and we slow down at construction sites on public roads when that work is being done. I think that waste management and recycling trucks, with their frequent stops and personnel exiting and entering the vehicle, are worthy of similar consideration by our driving public,” said Arciero in his testimony at the committee hearing.

The proposed speed limit for passing vehicles would be restricted to mostly residential and neighborhood roads, as the bill calls for exempting private ways, highways, or thoroughfares consisting of lined multiple lanes.   The penalty for violating this law would be either a $500 fine or up to a year in a house of corrections.  A second offense or a first time offense that resulting in serious bodily injury would trigger a $1,000 fine, loss of  your driver’s license for 6 months and up to 2 ½ years in a house of corrections.

Also testifying in favor of the bill was Steve Changaris, Massachusetts chapter manager for the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) and Ben Harvey, principal of E.L. Harvey & Sons, a firm in the industry for over 50 years.

“Upon passage, we pledge to work to provide the new law as much attention as possible so that it is used to help improve worker safety. We will work with all, including our friends in Massachusetts municipal government, police and transportation experts, safety experts, labor organizations and the like.   The more people who know about this new law, the more we can do to help this improve the safety of our work on the roadways,” said Mr. Changaris in his testimony.

“We have all experienced the frustration of following these vehicles that must stop and go in the performance of their job.  I think we owe it to those individuals in the waste management and recycling fields to give them the patience and courteous to perform their important work, and especially to make sure that they make it home safely to their families,” concluded Arciero.