Impatient motorists who endanger the lives of bin lorry workers are being warned they could face jail in a new crackdown launched between Wakefield Council and the police.
Drivers who dangerously try to get past stationary lorries, with some even mounting kerbs and pavements, are now being watched with 360° CCTV cameras fitted to all wagons.
It follows a national campaign DRoP Driving Recklessly on Pavements – to capture and prosecute careless drivers.
Wakefield councillor Maureen Cummings said: “I appreciate that motorists are sometimes in a hurry and meeting a bin lorry slowing down a free flow of traffic may stress them.
“However, taking shortcuts along pavements can have unintended and life changing consequences for so many people.
“They can knock down, seriously injure or kill members of the public or our staff and that can land them in jail for years.”
The law makes it illegal to drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency.
Waste management company, Biffa, has estimated that there are 30,000 incidents a month in the waste industry alone across the UK while the Department for Transport statistics show that there has been an average of 2,500 accidents between pedestrians and vehicles on pavements each year.
In the Wakefield district over the last 18 months, there have been an average of one incident every two months, but it is believed that the number of incidents is actually higher due to under-reporting.
Wakefield bin lorry worker Lee Hurst confirmed this saying: “It’s happening daily, people just become impatient and will get past by any means.
“You have got to be looking constantly and the driver has to be looking constantly.
“It’s worse at rush hour when people don’t leave themselves enough time and they just get more impatient.
“The more traffic builds up the more impatient they become, and if one goes then you can get another four trying to squeeze past.
“We have just learned to live with it, it’s like it’s become part of the job.”
With cameras fitted to all lorries, the police say they will be working closely with the council to identify offenders
Inspector Richard Clare, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “We will be reviewing the CCTV provided by the council, and seek to prosecute offenders wherever possible.
“This is purely about drivers being in a hurry, and we simply ask drivers to use patience not pavements.”
There is a number of offences that a driver can be charged with for driving on a pavement with the most severe carrying a prison term of 14 years.