The waste industry is one of the most dangerous in the UK and every month waste collectors report 30,000 incidents of motorists driving recklessly on pavements.
This may just be the tip of the iceberg, with many dangerous driving incidents going unreported and the startling number of incidents is a serious concern for both waste operatives and members of the public.
Here at Biffa, we handle 10% of household waste collections in the UK and currently our household waste collection teams are reporting around 3,000 incidents of reckless driving per month, a staggering number only accounting for just 1/10th of the industry figure.
As a company, the safety of our staff members and members of the public is paramount, which is why we have launched the DROPs campaign – Driving Recklessly on Pavements, aiming to raise awareness of the dangers of driving on pavements and the significant impact it has.
Our CCTV footage of reckless driving makes for shocking viewing and shows numerous incidents of careless drivers mounting pavements and driving into or nearly missing waste workers in order to dodge their trucks parked in the road.
Lawrence Emerson, Biffa’s Head of Health and Safety, said: “The issue is far, far greater than the industry, or the public, could ever possibly imagine.
I joined Biffa in 2015 from an aviation background, so I am used to high risk workplaces. When I went out with our crews on their collections, my jaw was on the floor – I could not believe what I was seeing and the danger the crews were facing every day due to reckless drivers.
The careless behaviour of drivers has been accepted by our staff as ‘part of the job’. Up until recently, they rarely reported such incidents to their managers let alone the police.”
And dangerous drivers have been causing a major safety risk nationwide; just one of Britain’s 43 police constabularies (Staffordshire Constabulary) processed 315 incidents of pedestrian injury or fatality on streets and pavements in 2015.
Before this issue was officially recognised, police figures show that only 6% of reports of dangerous driving were investigated, with even less leading to prosecution (2013).
Aside from trying to raise public awareness of DROPs, we have been actively trying to combat the issue for some time now. In addition to collaboration with the police, clearer hi-vis marking and resident awareness campaigns, our trucks are now fitted with 360 degree cameras to record incidents of dangerous driving to aid the police in prosecution.
Since a new prosecution system was introduced by Biffa and Staffordshire Police Force, figures (Oct 2016) show a marked improvement with 1/3 of 300 reported incidents of reckless driving by Biffa staff led to prosecution of drivers.
Karen McDonnell, Occupational Safety and Health Policy Adviser at the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “Driving on the footway (or pavement) is an offence under section 72 of the Highways Act 1835 and is also prohibited by rule 145 of the Highway Code.
The proactive approach taken by Biffa to tackle this issue is to be commended. RoSPA would encourage Biffa to share the learning from this initiative with the wider world of work.”
Organisations actively supporting the campaign include RoSPA The HSE Keeping Britain Working Well collective, WISH, ESA, URT, BRAKE and Graham Robb Associates.