Dangerous Driving on UK Pavements - Biffa
Biffa waste vehicle with operative

UK waste firm uncovers shocking extent of dangerous driving on UK’s pavements

1 Jan 2019
5 mins
The waste industry puts up with 30,000 incidents of motorists driving recklessly on pavements every month, seriously threatening the safety of staff and the public, says leading waste firm Biffa.
Industry News
Health and Safety

  • Waste industry one of the most dangerous in the UK, made far worse by reckless motorists
  • Latest figures reveal that waste collectors put up with around 30,000 incidents of dangerous driving on pavements every month
  • Figure just the tip of the iceberg as most do not report, putting up with dangerous driving as ‘part of the job’
  • Shocking video footage shows how real this issue is with numerous incidents of Biffa waste collectors being hit or narrowly missed by reckless, impatient motorists
  • Before Biffa’s awareness campaign launched, only 6% of these incidents resulted in investigation or prosecution

The waste industry puts up with 30,000 incidents of motorists driving recklessly on pavements every month, seriously threatening the safety of staff and the public, says leading waste firm Biffa.

Biffa, which handles 10% of household waste collections in the UK, says its staff are reporting around 3,000 incidents of reckless driving per month, only accounting for 1/10th of the total industry figure.

Biffa’s video 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.

Footage also alarmingly shows a little boy riding his bike on the pavement, with a dangerous driver veering up towards him a few seconds later to get past a waste truck, missing the boy by just a few feet.

The footage is hard hitting viewing particularly at this time of year when the clocks have gone back, with visibility and safety reduced further due to darker mornings and evenings.
A spokesperson from Biffa said: “The issue is far, far greater than the industry, or the public, could ever possibly imagine.

“The careless behaviour of drivers has been accepted by our staff as ‘part of the job’. Up until recently, many 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 and tracked, police figure show that only 6% of reports of dangerous and illegal driving were investigated, with even less leading to prosecution (2013).

Biffa has been actively trying to combat the issue for some time now. Its trucks are fitted with 360 degree cameras which have been pivotal in helping to record incidents of dangerous driving during the last two years, collating most of the evidence that is needed to prosecute the road’s criminals.

Last year the firm launched DROPs (Driving Recklessly on Pavements campaign) in a bid to eradicate the issue – bringing together a combination of tactics, including working with the police, staff training, re-routing of vehicles, clearer hi-vis marking and resident awareness marketing.

Since the introduction of a new prosecution system by Biffa and Staffordshire Police Force, figures (Oct 2016) show a marked improvement – one in three of the 300 reported incidents of illegal driving by Biffa staff led to prosecution.

Following the launch of the DROPs campaign in autumn 2016 and the awareness the resulting media coverage generated, recent figures (May 2017) show that incident reporting in the same region has halved from an average of 12 per week to 5-6 per week.

PC Duncan Stephenson, from Staffordshire Police said: “The system is simple and easy to use and has led to an increase in prosecutions of reckless drivers. Working on this with Biffa has been the easiest partnership I’ve had in 20 years of being in the force.”

Karen McDonnell, occupational safety and health policy adviser at the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents, 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.”
Biffa is working with police forces nationwide to ensure its prosecution system is implemented and more dangerous drivers are prosecuted, making public highways and pavements safer for all using them.

RoSPA joins a number of Local Authorities, industry bodies, trade unions and other related organisation who are actively supporting the campaign including the HSE’s Keeping Britain Working Well collective, WISH, ESA, URT, BRAKE and Graham Robb Associates.