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By Staff | Oct 13, 2010

A not-for-profit corporation is hoping to remind Cape Coral motorists about the dangers of unsafe and distracted driving with the help of Waste Pro.
Stay Alive …. Just Drive! recently partnered with Waste Pro to display its message on the waste collection trucks. A crash prevention, education and awareness program, Stay Alive …. Just Drive! aims to promote safe driving and curb distracted driving, according to the organization’s website.
“The Stay Alive …. Just Drive! board of directors and representatives from Waste Pro thought this would be a great opportunity to spread our word in the Cape,” said Jay Anderson, executive director of the program.
The not-for-profit organization has been active in Lee County since 2006, but it has mostly been active on the east side of the Calooshatcheee River, Anderson said. With Waste Pro taking over waste collection in the Cape, the organization wants to reach motorists on other side of the river by using the trucks.
Stay Alive …. Just Drive! also displays its message on LeeTran buses.
“Part of our effort deals with awareness and the only way you can make people aware is by presenting that message to them,” Anderson said. “It’s a good cooperate effort that hopefully will produce positive results.”
Keith Banasiak, regional vice president of Waste Pro, agreed.
“If we can help spread the message, that’s what we want to do,” he said.
Anderson said the goal is to encourage drivers to focus solely on driving.
“There’s no question that driving is the most dangerous thing we do on a daily basis, yet it’s something that the motoring public takes for granted,” he said.
According to the Stay Alive …. Just Drive! website, studies show that 80 percent of motor vehicle crashes and 65 percent of near misses are a direct result of driver inattention. Anderson said one big concern is cell phone use.
“Your concentration revolves around that conservation you’re having,” he said. “It puts yourself and other drivers at risk, especially bicyclists and motorcyclists.”
According to Banasiak, there have been instances within the 12 months in which a vehicle has struck a Waste Pro truck because the motorist was on a cell phone and not paying attention. In one instance, the person was talking on a cell phone, and in the other the motorist was texting on a cell phone.
“We have people that are out every day that cut in front of us or don’t give us (the Waste Pro trucks) enough room,” he said.
Banasiak added that although most of the waste collection is automated, their employees must get out of their truck at times, which can be unsafe with distracted drivers on the road.
Waste Pro has partnered with other community groups to spread their message, including the Southwest Florida Safety Council, Keep Lee County Beautiful, Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency and Cape Coral Charter Schools, among others.
“The idea is to be a partner in the community and show people that we care about these organizations, and these are organizations that we are active in and support,” Banasiak said.