- Governor Chris Christie signed bill A-4452/S-518 — otherwise known as "Michael Massey's Law," the "Move Over Law," or Slow Down to Get Around (SDTGA) — on May 1, making New Jersey the 15th state to enact such legislation aimed at improving industry safety, as reported by Point Pleasant Patch.
- The bill requires motorists to drive below the speed limit while approaching a sanitation vehicle and to move into another lane, if possible, away from the vehicle. It also requires sanitation vehicles to display flashing lights while stopped. Violators can face a fine of up to $500.
- The bill is dubbed "Michael Massey's Law" in honor of the late 39-year-old Ocean Township public works employee who was fatally struck by a car while loading a sanitation vehicle. "Michael Massey’s tragic death was preventable. He was a loving husband and a father of two young children who lost his life because of a driver who chose to speed past a sanitation vehicle," said Sen. Jennifer Beck in a statement, according to Patch.
This law closely follows many other states that have recently enacted SDTGA legislation. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia all have adopted similar laws, and legislation has also been introduced in Connecticut.
The rules may be frustrating for drivers, but they hold significant meaning for industry workers and their families who fear the dangers associated with collections. Refuse and recycling collection remains the fifth most dangerous occupation nationwide and news about traffic-related industry fatalities has become much too common. While safety practices are preached to all refuse truck drivers, citizen attention and awareness is still lacking, making the adoption of this legislation one of the most important movements for industry employees.
Outside of simply putting the laws into place, other actions have been taken to make citizens aware of their duties while driving near collection vehicles. The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has made efforts to distribute free SDTGA decals to its members, and some municipalities have even painted large, attention-grabbing reminders on the side of their trucks. Citizens should not wait for a tragic event to happen to begin caring about sanitation worker safety, therefore every bit of effort to promote safety from both government officials and industry leaders can help.