YONKERS, N.Y. - Waste and recycling collection vehicles got a makeover in Yonkers this week, as Mayor Mike Spano tamed with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to encourage drivers to “slow down to get around” DPW crews on city streets.
On Tuesday, Spano was joined by DPW Commissioner Tom Meier in Yonkers to announce that they would begin enforcing Cuomo’s “Slow Down To Get Around” legislation, which requires motorists to slow down while passing collection vehicles.
As part of the initiative, garbage trucks and waste collection vehicles have been labelled as “hazard vehicles,” complete with a fresh paint job warning motorists to “slow down to get around” or else face getting ticketed by police.
Spano said that enforcement would be rolled out slowly, as he seeks to educate the community about the new rules before cracking down on violators.
“We are committed to educating the public on the ‘slow down to get around’ campaign and enforcing this new state law,” he said. “Many people do not realize that our sanitation workers face extreme danger at times from vehicles not slowing down when approaching our DPW trucks.
“It’s imperative that our residents slow down when they see one of our trucks with their yellow lights flashing. The safety of our citizens and city employees will always be our top priority.”
According to U.S. government data, fatalities in the waste and recycling is the fifth highest among all occupations, averaging 90 deaths annually per 100,000 employees. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has shown that waste collectors are injured between five and seven times more than an average worker.
One such worker was Yonkers DPW employee John Calise, who missed several months of work last year after being struck by a motorist while working on a city sanitation truck. He was on hand at Tuesday’s press conference after he required multiple surgeries to get back on the job.
“Our industry is seeing more and more accidents each year that involve motorists driving too fast when attempting to pass a sanitation vehicle,” Meier said. “We appreciate this law being signed by Gov. Cuomo and the commitment to enforcing it throughout Yonkers by Mayor Spano.