A new law will force New Yorkers to slow down when passing sanitation vehicles. NY1’s Clodagh McGowan filed the following report.
Slow down and move around. That’s the gist of a new state law that’s now in effect.It regulates how motorists behave when driving near sanitation vehicles.
Queens Assembly Member Michael DenDekker sponsored the bill, and Governor Cuomo signed it in June.
"Be aware that there are men and women out there doing a job, to try to move over, pull out of the way, slow down and be more observant," said DenDekker.
The law now recognizes both public and private sanitation vehicles as 'hazard vehicles,' putting them in the same category as police cars and fire trucks.
DenDekker, who used to work for the Department of Sanitation, says he knows firsthand how dangerous the job can be.
"Cars and trucks are zipping around and everyone is in a rush, and you have to stop, do your job, remove this solid waste, which is a health issue if it doesn't get removed in a timely matter," said DenDekker.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics garbage collection is the fifth most dangerous job in the country, with 35 fatal injuries per 100,000 people.
"We do everything that we can. We put vests on them, the trucks are well-lighted but there are incidents unfortunately, there are near misses with other cars, not seeing them," said Thomas Toscano, the Chief Financial Officer of Mr. T Carting, a private waste-management company in Glendale.
"Anything that we can do to really enhance safety at the workplace is important. And this is a good solid piece of legislation that will give the workers in this industry a safer work place," said Mike Hellstrom, the Business Manager for Laborers Local Union 108, which represents more than 1,000 private industry sanitation workers.
The Department of Sanitation applauded the new law, saying in part quote: "Sanitation Workers face incredible dangers every day working to collect more than 11,000 tons of garbage and recycling from New York City residents, agencies, and institutions. This law requires drivers to slow down and use caution when passing collection trucks, leading to safer conditions for our workforce."
The law goes into effect Tuesday.