The risk of injury from passing vehicles as they make their daily rounds has motivated workers of waste industry to support a measure that mandates drivers to provide a wider space for garbage trucks as they stopped in their collection.

Joe Rossi, who is president of Teamsters Local 249, said that they are proposing for is some legal changes to ask stiffer fines so motorists would think twice of the need of safety that would probably save some injuries and maybe more lives.

Two law makers, State Rep. D-Stanton Heights Dom Costa and D-Highland Park Sen. Jim Ferlo are collecting comments on HB 1273, entitled Slow Down to Get Around Act. According to statistics from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in the waste industry outranked accidents of police and firefighters in on-the-job fatalities.

Assigned to the House Transportation Committee, the bill requires that drivers slow down their speed when they pass by a garbage truck that was its blinking light. Failure to do so has a penalty of  $250 fine.

Any other driving violations would double its fines in an area where workers are collecting garbage, and in case of any vehicular accident that caused death of refuse workers, a prison sentence of as long as five years is given.

In February of 2012, Aaron Atkins, a Pittsburgh refuse worker, injured his legs when a sport utility vehicle rear-ended his garbage truck along East Liberty. The victim was pinned against the back of his truck.

Co-worker Paul Kapetanovich said during the hearing that it was Atkin’s 6-foot-5-inch stature that saved him. Had he been a foot shorted, his internal organs would have been crushed.

In July of 2006, the same kind of accident killed a Washington Waste Management Inc. employee identified as Victor Cavazos, age 40.

This time, a pickup rear-ended the garbage truck in vicinity of Elizabeth Township that pinned Cavazos between the two vehicles. Robert Quarrick resident of Smithfield, who was the truck operator, was imprisoned from six to 12 years and was released in February of 2008.

The manager at Republic Services Inc.’s Imperial Landfill and a steering committee member for the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association, John McGoran said that the policy of the company prohibits discussing several incidents involving vehicles in the past few years.

Due to high risks, the cost of insuring garbage collectors had rocketed and that included the large investments to buy and maintain refuse trucks. For this reason, Lou Gorski who is incumbent executive director of the South Hills Area Council of Governments stated that many Pittsburgh area municipalities preferred contracting trash and recycling collections to private companies.Today, only a few communities still handle their own garbage collection.

Municipal Manager Lynette McKinney recounted that for the past 10 years, Monroeville’s 15 refuse collectors and drivers had encountered only one accident involving another vehicle and multiple close calls.

Ferlo said he planned to propose a twin bill to Costa’s in the state Senate this fall. He said that the state must work together with the private garbage collectors and municipalities to initiate an educational program to remind drivers about safe conduct around garbage trucks.

Accident victims have rights. If you were injured in a car accident, contact experienced accident attorney now for free consultation. He will protect the rights of you and your loved ones. You may be entitled to financial compensation for economic damages, as well as pain and suffering.

Source:  Trib Live Com

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