UPDATE: July 31, 2018: Yesterday, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed the bill into law. The news came with a stark reminder of the importance of such legislation: That morning a pickup truck hit a Rumpke garbage truck driver in Middleton. The Rumpke employee later died from injuries sustained at the scene.
- In a unanimous 84-0 vote yesterday, the Ohio House of Representatives greenlit Senate Bill 127, requiring drivers to move over when passing waste collection trucks with flashing lights, an extension of a rule previously applying only to public safety vehicles.
- The measure stipulates that drivers proceed with caution and change lanes if traveling on a roadway with more than two lanes.
- Drivers in violation of the requirements would be charged with a minor misdemeanor moving violation, along with a fine of up to $300 plus court fees. Subsequent violations would earn the offender a $500 fine and possible jail time.
Ohio's Senate approved its "Slow Down to Get Around" law last October. If Governor Kasich approves the bill — a move that seems likely given its approval in both the House and Senate — it will be a big win for the safety of waste disposal workers.
Ohio joins at least 18 other states in approving a form of this safety standard, which includes: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Other states have also introduced similar legislation and a bill signing is expected in Kansas soon.
While further state recognition of the hazards faced by waste disposal workers is a positive development, much still needs to be done to educate the public on the dangers of passing too closely to stopped vehicles, regardless of vehicle function. The National Waste & Recycling Association recently released a policy paper calling out distracted driving as one of the greatest threats to collection workers.
Recent stories involving police and other stopped vehicle deaths highlight the continued lack of public awareness regarding the issue, even though Ohio passed its Move Over law in 1999 following the roadside deaths of a police officer and firefighter. Even years after approving similar laws protecting police and other emergency vehicles in other states, many drivers continue to cause fatalities by passing at dangerous speed or proximity to stopped vehicles.