Editor's note: This article has been updated to include background information about the Slow Down to Get Around initiative.
- The Ohio Senate passed S.B. 127 unanimously on Oct. 25, which resembles other "Slow Down to Get Around" laws that have recently been enacted around the country.
- This law will include waste and recycling collection vehicles in the state's existing "Move Over Law." That means drivers will have to slow down to pass collection vehicles on the road, or change lanes when possible, if those vehicles are stopped with flashing, oscillating, or rotating lights.
- Violation of the Move Over Law is currently a minor misdemeanor, with more serious misdemeanor classifications for drivers that have received past violations. Starting fines for a minor misdemeanor in Ohio are $150 and escalate to $500, with potential jail time, for subsequent instances.
Slow Down to Get Around is a major priority for both the National Waste & Recycling Association and the Solid Waste Association of North America, and the two groups worked together on this Ohio bill. The Slow Down program was initially developed by NWRA, McNeilus and Ohio-based service provider Rumpke in 2013. The unanimous vote, and the fact that this bill had 25 co-sponsors in a 32-member legislative body, make it likely that S.B. 127 could eventually be signed into law by Gov. John Kasich.
This makes Ohio the 17th state to pass some form of Slow Down law, following: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Similar legislation has also been introduced in other states.
As waste collection remains the fifth most dangerous occupation in the country, these types of laws are seen as a simple first step to ensure the safety of workers out on the streets. For crews that operate early in the morning or late at night, even with reflective gear, the potential exposure to other vehicles is high. In a sober reminder of this, a Casella Waste Systems employee was fatally struck by a vehicle in Vermont earlier this year. Even when drivers are paying attention, their frustration with waiting behind a collection vehicle can also turn dangerous. Last week, an Oklahoma man appeared to willfully strike a Papillion Sanitation sanitation worker with his car in such a situation. The worker survived with no reported injuries.