Page last updated at 28 April 2016 at 13:33
An appeal to drivers to take care around refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) is being launched by Eastleigh Borough Council.
The borough’s bin collectors frequently witness incidents of thoughtless driving, or even full-on road rage, including:
- car and van drivers mounting kerbs to go round RCVs (crews logged 130 incidents of vehicles driving on pavements or verges with two - or even four - wheels from August to October last year);
- crews being subjected to threats and verbal abuse (13 incidents were recorded over the same three-month period);
- wheelie bins clipped by passing motorists while being pushed by collectors;
- vehicles passing close to waste collectors at very high speed, and
- drivers repeatedly sounding their horns.
These have prompted the council’s waste and recycling team to launch a campaign to help other road-users better understand how bin collections work - and remember a few key facts when they encounter a RCV making collections:
- Bin rounds are designed to be carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible – and teams aim to complete work on major commuting routes before they get busy.
- Refuse collectors will make efforts to allow traffic to pass, but only when it is practicable and safe.
- Bin lorries are positioned on the road to allow road users to pass where possible, but also to allow bins to be speedily collected, while protecting the safety of crew members. If RCVs pull to the roadside they can become pinned between parked cars as a steady stream of traffic passes.
- Waste collection routes follow a set weekly pattern, which means that local drivers can anticipate the location of bin lorries on collection days, and can plan their journeys around them.
- Mounting the pavement is not just illegal – it can also be very dangerous. Rush hour coincides with the school-run when footways are busier than normal and more cars and pedestrians are emerging from roadside driveways.
- Increasingly, lorries carry camera systems including 360-degree CCTV. Footage might be used as evidence in a prosecution for a motoring or other offence.
Thankfully, during 2015 Eastleigh’s waste and recycling team saw no serious injuries – and the incidents described above are relatively rare – but a number of near-misses has prompted this latest safety drive.
Conversations with Eastleigh refuse collectors give an insight into some of the incidents they have encountered in recent months:
Danny, 41, was driving his RCV, with parked cars opposite. Loaders were emptying the bins as the wagon edged forward. A car squeezed through the gap at high speed, narrowly missing his loader as it sped off.
Jack, 25, describes how drivers sometimes tailgate loaders, driving very close behind them as they empty bins into the RCV – a very dangerous practice, apparently designed to hurry the loading of a lorry;
Kevin, 35, recounted how a driver in Bursledon shouted abuse and tooted her horn at the crew -despite only having to wait a few seconds for the driver to move the wagon out of her way.
Steve (50) was driving his RCV in Chandler's Ford as his crew was emptying bins into the wagon. A car was unable to pass and Steve indicated that he would move up in a few seconds, but the driver couldn’t wait the necessary 20 seconds and mounted the kerb and grass verge, to the inside of the parked cars, with all four wheels of his car. Steve was relieved for the driver’s sake that he narrowly missed sliding into the stream that ran alongside the verge.
Councillor Rupert Kyrle, Eastleigh Borough Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for waste and recycling, said: “Our waste collection crews understand that some motorists get frustrated when they are stuck behind a bin lorry that seems to be moving unnecessarily slowly. But the road is our refuse collectors’ workplace and our main concern is to get bins emptied quickly, efficiently and, above all, safely - so we appreciate other road user’s patience and co-operation in helping us provide the excellent service enjoyed by our residents.”