Biffa launches safe driving campaign in Wirral

Biffa driving

Image captured from a camera mounted on Biffa vehicle demonstrating poor and dangerous driving

Waste management company Biffa has launched a campaign to reduce driving-related dangers to its refuse and recycling collectors in the Wirral, in partnership with the local council and police.

According to Biffa, the initiative has been introduced after a ‘worrying’ increase in the number of ‘near-misses’ where Biffa staff have been ‘endangered by impatient drivers who don’t want to be held up for a few minutes’.

The incidents reported by Biffa’s Wirral crews in 2012-13 include driving ‘too fast and too close’ to get round collection vehicles, squeezing ‘too tightly’ past crews on narrow roads, and mounting pavements.

Biffa has said that across the 40-plus local authorities it operated in last year, there were around 670 reports of bad driving incidents and three occasions where staff were hit by vehicles.

Campaign details

Launched earlier this month, the campaign asks drivers to be ‘patient, tolerant and safe’ when they encounter Biffa staff and their vehicles collecting refuse in the local area.

The campaign is supported by police, and is backed by their protocol for reporting, investigating and prosecuting offences that could cause injury or damage. Such offences include:

  • cars being driven on pavements, or ‘too close and so endangering Biffa crews’;
  • cars hitting Biffa vehicles, crews or bins, regardless of whether injury or damage are caused; and
  • threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour towards Biffa staff.

The Environment Services Association (ESA), a trade association for the waste and resource management sector – of which Biffa is a member – also supports the protocol. The ESA hope that the protocol will become a model that other waste management companies and police forces can draw on when tackling this issue.

‘Let the crews do their jobs’

Commenting on the Wirral campaign, Biffa Business Manager, Gary Robinson said: “My crews are only trying to do their job. That’s what local residents want and expect them to do. All we’re asking for is some consideration by other road users. Our vehicles don’t hold up traffic for long, and drivers are usually soon on their way, so it really isn’t necessary to get impatient, frustrated or angry.”

Saying that drivers wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, behave in an 'irresponsible' way if a bus was dropping off schoolchildren or the elderly, he added: “So why should they when Biffa workers are out doing their important job?”

Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability for Wirral Borough Council, Brian Kenny, added: “The crews are out five days a week, often in horrible weather, picking up rubbish and recycling from our doorsteps. 

“We try to make sure that they collect at the most convenient time and we always try to avoid busy roads and areas around schools at rush hour, whenever we can. But sometimes traffic can get held up, so all we’re asking is for people to stay calm, let the crews do their jobs, and they’ll soon be on their way.”

Any incidents will be reported formally to local police and offenders could face fines, community service or court prosecution.

Chief Inspector of Merseyside Police, Nick Gunatilleke, said: "Refuse and recycling crews perform a valuable and necessary public service. We urge all motorists to be considerate and make sure that they give workers and their vehicles plenty of space to do their job. 

"Reducing road casualties is a top priority for Merseyside Police and this initiative reflects our concern.”