Tow truck drivers diligently serve the public. They provide absolutely essential services in removing damaged, wrecked and disabled vehicles from the roads. They also provide non-towing services such as locksmith services and changing tires. Unfortunately, many of these tow truck drivers fail to take basic safety precautions for themselves and as a result are injured or killed in the line of duty.
Death and dying is a reality of the towing industry. The very nature of the towing industry is dealing with disabled vehicles and accidents. It can be a very dangerous job as accidents can happen at any time and without prior warning. Tow truck operators should never assume that accidents will never happen to them. At any moment they could be seriously injured or killed. Fatalities of tow truck drivers are occurring on an ever-increasing basis.
Recently, a 47-year-old operator in Louisiana died after being hit by a truck while he was clearing debris from the roadway after an earlier crash. At the time of the crash he was standing on the shoulder of the highway.
An 18-year-old operator was hit and killed while he was trying to help a motorist with a flat tire. At the time of this accident he had pulled over to the shoulder of the road.
A Florida operator was killed while he was preparing to tow a car from Interstate 95. He had been putting out his cones. At the time of the accident he was placing down the last cone when he was struck.
Many of the accidents involving tow truck drivers happened while they were loading vehicles, changing tires or performing other tasks while working on the emergency shoulder of the road. The drivers may have been standing or working underneath disabled vehicles after an impact. They also may have been distracted and not paying attention to their surroundings.
“Move over laws” are enacted aim to protect emergency workers. The purpose of these laws is to protect emergency responders working along the roadside. This law requires drivers to move away from the vehicle by one lane if they notice emergency vehicles with sirens or flashing lights. If they are unable to move over one lane they must reduce their speed below the posted speed limit. This law includes law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances and tow trucks with flashing lights whose drivers are performing their road service duties.
While “Move over laws” may help protect tow truck operators accidents still occur. Drivers should perform their duties in a manner that is safe for themselves and their clients. A few of the ways tow truck operators endanger their lives are as follows:
1. Changing a vehicle’s tire on the traffic side of the road
2. Standing partially in the traffic lane
3. Walking with their backs to traffic
Tow truck operators should acknowledge the risks of their jobs and take the necessary precautions to be safe. They must always pay attention to their surroundings and traffic and avoid taking unnecessary risks. They work diligently to serve motorists. Nevertheless, it is important that they return home safely themselves.