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Berkeley County death inspires bill to protect waste service workers

Photo submitted to The Journal  Jeremy Tabler is shown with his daughters, Jewelia, 11, and Annaliese, 7. Tabler was fatally struck last year by a vehicle while exiting his sanitation truck. Tabler’s widow is working with a state legislator on a bill to require drivers to slow down when passing waste service workers.
Photo submitted to The Journal
Jeremy Tabler is shown with his daughters, Jewelia, 11, and Annaliese, 7. Tabler was fatally struck last year by a vehicle while exiting his sanitation truck. Tabler’s widow is working with a state legislator on a bill to require drivers to slow down when passing waste service workers.

CHARLESTON. W.Va. – The widow of a Berkeley County sanitation worker is working with a state senator on a bill that could save the lives of others in the industry.

Sen. Donald Cookman, D-Hampshire, has introduced a bill, SB 378, to add garbage trucks and other sanitation vehicles to the definition of authorized emergency vehicles that passed the Senate Transportation Committee last week. The legislation requires drivers to reduce their speed to 15 miles per hour when passing a stopped waste service vehicle.

Tiffany Tabler, of Martinsburg, reached out to Cookman about creating the bill after her husband, Jeremy Tabler, 30, was fatally struck by a vehicle on March 7, 2013, while exiting the driver’s side door of a stopped sanitation truck on Dominion Road near Gerrardstown.

The driver of the vehicle that hit Jeremy was not speeding and was cleared of charges because there are no laws regarding driving near or passing stopped waste service vehicles, such as those regarding ambulances, fire trucks and other emergency service vehicles.

“The person that was driving by did not slow down,” Tiffany Tabler said. “There are laws to protect police officers and (officials) like that, but there isn’t anything protecting the waste truck drivers. … If my husband were struck (by a vehicle) going 15 mph versus 45, then he probably would still be here today.”

If the bill becomes a law, anyone found guilty of violating the law could face a fine up to $1,000 and a misdemeanor, depending on the speed factor and if serious injury or death occurs.

The legislation includes publicly and privately owned or operated garbage trucks and other sanitation vehicles that are identified as a waste service vehicle with lighting or signs…

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