School's out for summer and more children will be outside playing, riding their bikes and dashing along streets on skateboards enjoying the break -- and hopefully, says Waste Management of Illinois, avoiding garbage trucks.
"Safety is always a priority, and garbage trucks often are a magnet for curious children," says Rick Grochowski, Waste Management's Illinois-Missouri Valley area safety manager. "Children are fascinated by garbage and recycling trucks and how they work, but for safety's sake parents should tell them to stay a safe distance from working trucks as they come down their streets."
Grochowski asks parents to also talk to their children about bike safety generally and wearing personal protective gear such as helmets and pads, but make clear the dangers of getting too close to collection vehicles with all their many moving parts. "We love their curiosity, but most of all we want them to be safe," he said.
Grochowski said new safety concerns have arisen from people who use cell phones and music devices requiring earplugs. "There are so many distractions out there," Grochowski says. "Texting is a big thing and it's distracting while walking, riding a bike or skateboarding. People are not paying attention to their surroundings." He suggests parents also teach their children the bike rules of the road or see if bike safety classes are available in their communities.
Grochowski and Waste Management offer a number of ways to be safe around collection vehicles:
• Learn the schedule of when service vehicles are in the area. Garbage trucks, recycling vehicles, postal vehicles and other package delivery services keep regular schedules within each neighborhood.
• Keep children and pets at a safe distance from the truck. Never get near or climb on the truck. Always keep portable basketball hoops away from trash bins or carts, and never on the street. Do not play or stand in or around trash bins or carts, since you may not know when the truck is coming to empty them. On your collection day, be sure to move toys or cars out of the path of the truck and away from your collection containers.
• Do not attempt or allow children to help with loading any garbage into the truck. In addition to moving truck parts, debris can fall out of the truck when its contents are being compressed.
• Vehicles like Waste Management trucks make frequent stops and often back up, so don't follow the truck closely on a bike, skateboard, roller skates or roller blades.
• There are numerous areas where the visibility is restricted for your driver. If you can't see him/her in the eyes, they most likely cannot see you.
• It takes service vehicles about three times as long to stop as a passenger car, so never cut in front of or stop suddenly in front of one. Always keep a safe distance from a truck.
• Every Waste Management truck is equipped with a back-up alarm. Whether you are walking or driving near one of our trucks, if you hear this sound or see the white back-up lights, be sure to move out of the way of the truck.