South Staffordshire Council and Biffa initiate safe driving campaign to increase safety for recycling staff

Published:  31 May, 2012

An increase in dangerous driving has prompted the launch of an awareness campaign backed by South Staffordshire Council, municipal contractor Biffa, and local police. The initiative, which starts on 1st June, asks local drivers to be patient, tolerant and safe when they encounter bin men and their vehicles out collecting refuse and recycling in the area.

According to Biffa business manager Matt Bailey, there has been a worrying increase in the number of ‘near misses' where his crews have been endangered by impatient drivers who don't want to be held up for a few minutes.

The 104 dangerous driving incidents reported by Biffa crews in South Staffordshire include driving too fast and too close to get round collection vehicles, squeezing too tightly past bin men on narrow roads, and even mounting pavements.

Across Biffa's 40-plus local council contracts last year, there were nearly 1,100 reports of bad driving near misses and almost 400 recorded injuries, with 12 Biffa staff actually being hit by vehicles.

Matt said: My crews are only trying to do their job. That's what local residents want and expect them to do. All we ask is for some consideration by other road users. Our vehicles don't hold up traffic for long, and drivers are usually soon on their way, so it really isn't necessary to get impatient, frustrated or angry.

He commented drivers wouldn't, and shouldn't, behave in such an irresponsible way if a bus was dropping off schoolchildren or the elderly, adding ‘so why should they when bin men are out doing their job?'.

As part of the local campaign, impatient and dangerous drivers will be reported to the police, and could possibly be prosecuted.

Councillor Joan Williams, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services at South Staffordshire Council, is backing Biffa's campaign and said: The crews are out five days a week, often in horrible weather, picking up rubbish and recycling from our doorsteps.
We try to make sure that they collect at the most convenient time and we always try to avoid busy roads and areas around schools at rush hour whenever we can. But sometimes traffic can get held up, so all we're asking is for people to stay calm, let the crews do their jobs and they'll soon be on their way.
Inspector Donna Gibbs, Local Policing Team Commander for South Staffordshire, said: "Bin crews perform a valuable public service, often in inclement conditions. We'd urge motorists to be considerate and make sure that they give workers and their vehicles plenty of space to do their job.

"Reducing the number of road casualties is a top priority for Staffordshire Police and our partners, and we'd urge all motorists to drive safely at all times – particularly when they encounter bin crews.

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