A “traumatic scene,” as one Hardin County official called it, unfolded Tuesday morning on Shepherdsville Road when a driver attempted to go around a garbage truck.
According to Kentucky State Police Post 4 spokesman Scotty Sharp, Elizabethtown resident Alexandra Spata, 31, who was operating a Toyota passenger car, attempted to pass a garbage truck, as well as a vehicle behind it. While attempting to pass, Sharp said Spata struck the operator of the garbage truck, Michael Buehner, 33. State police received the call at 7:54 a.m.
Sharp said Buehner was flown to Louisville with non-life-threatening injuries.
In an email Tuesday afternoon, Steve Smith, vice president of business development/government relations for Red River Waste Solutions, who the county has a franchise agreement with to dispose of solid waste within the unincorporated portions of Hardin County, said the “employee is doing well considering and details are pending investigation.”
“It was a very traumatic ordeal today and in an instant that could be somebody’s life,” Hardin County Solid Waste Director Stephanie Givens said Tuesday afternoon on the phone.
According to the National Waste and Recycling Association, being struck by motorists is a leading cause of death for waste and recycling collection employees, but with proper awareness, it is preventable.
Givens said residents should give the same caution to waste and recycling collection vehicles that they should give a school bus.
“If it was a school bus it could’ve been a kid,” she said.
Givens also encouraged residents to slow down when they see the orange garbage cans, which entered use last year.
“That was one of the No. 1 reasons we went with the orange garbage cans; caution,” Givens said. “People need to be observant and if they see orange garbage cans at the curb, they need to be watching their surroundings and looking out for these guys. That’s their office space. That’s their space to do their job and we need to allow them to be able to do their jobs safely.”
The National Waste and Recycling Association’s national safety campaign is Slow Down to Get Around – a reminder for motorists to drive more carefully when near waste and recycling collection vehicles, the website said.
A few neighborhood safety measures shared by Red River Waste Solutions include:
• Treat sanitation and recycling trucks like other official service vehicles by slowing down and approaching cautiously.
• Before attempting to pass sanitation and recycling trucks, approach slowly, check for traffic coming from the opposite direction and be mindful of the drivers and technician whereabouts.
• Since it takes sanitation and recycling trucks more time than passenger cars to stop, it is important to keep a safe distance.
• Teach teen drivers by example. Ensure to demonstrate patience when driving near sanitation and recycling trucks.
• Avoid being distracted.