LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The 2017 General Assembly quietly passed a new law designed to protect sanitation workers.

It is a dirty job, and it can be dangerous. Solid waste crews are often hard at work, getting on and off their trucks as traffic speeds around them.

“People are focused on getting where it is they need to be, and sometimes they can be impatient and might not slow down," said Harold Adams of Louisville Metro Public Works. "That poses dangers to our guys who make frequent stops."

That's why the General Assembly passed House Bill 144, called the “Slow Down to Go Around” law. It requires motorists to yield to garbage trucks and workers and to go slow when passing them.

“Similar to what we do for police officers, state troopers [and] life squads when you see them on the highway," said Rep. Sal Santoro (R-Florence) who co-sponsored the bill. "We want the people to be aware and move over to the side and let these individuals be in a safe area."

Public Works says there were 18 traffic accidents last year involving solid waste vehicles. There were no injuries. but the federal government says waste and recycling jobs rank fifth in the nation for injuries, accidents and deaths.

Not all are caused by traffic, but supporters hope the law at least raises awareness.

“The idea is to get people to cooperate with the idea that they need to slow down let people be safe doing their job,” Adams said.

Right now, there is no punishment for breaking the new law, but if public awareness does not work, penalties could be added later.

“I hope it never happens," Santoro said. "If we have to start some rigorous enforcement, then that could happen."

The bill passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate. Gov. Matt Bevin signed it on March 16.

The law has already been passed in 12 other states, including Indiana.

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