CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Senate Judiciary Committee has passed legislation designed to protect sanitation workers who risk being struck by other vehicles while on the job.
SB 378 requires motorists to slow to 15 miles an hour when overtaking or passing a garbage truck when it is stopped and has on its flashing lights.
The committee passed the bill on to the full Senate Thursday afternoon after hearing from Tiffany Tabler from Berkeley County. Her husband, Jeremy Lee Tabler, was killed last March while collecting trash.
Mrs. Tabler told how Jeremy was standing next to the driver’s side of the vehicle when he was struck and killed by a pick-up truck coming the other way going 45 miles an hour. His death left behind a young widow and two daughters.
“The leading cause of death for waste collection employees is being struck by an oncoming vehicle,” Tabler told the committee. “Passing a law like this could actually significantly help reduce the tragedies like what we have endured.”
Bill sponsor Senator Don Cookman (D-Hampshire) said Michigan, Wisconsin and Alabama have passed similar legislation and bills are pending in Florida, Georgia and West Virginia.
“I think it’s very important that we protect these workers when they have to stop curbside and have to get out of the vehicle or off the back of the vehicle,” Cookman said.
Violators would face a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $300. The penalties increase if the speeding results in an injury to a sanitation worker.