Move over laws were originally aimed at protecting emergency responders and law enforcement working along the roadside. But a recent study shows on-the-job fatality risks of the tow truck industry is nearly 15 times greater than other industries. It’s past time for change.

Nonfatal injury rates among tow truck drivers are just above 204 mark per 10,000 full-time workers, compared to 98 per 10,000 for all other industries.

191 towing workers were killed between 2011 and 2016, which is at an annual rate of nearly 43 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers. For the other U.S. private industries combined, the death rate is 2.9 per 100,000. More than half of those killed worked in companies that had 10 or fewer employees.

For additional data, see Other Related Information at the bottom of this article.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, states that “Until now, nonfatal injuries and deaths in the motor vehicle towing industry have been largely overlooked. The findings from this study underscore the need for additional research and tailored prevention efforts.”

What’s being done?

Most Move Over laws require passing drivers to move one lane over to the left upon noticing an emergency vehicle with sirens and/or flashing lights. If that’s not possible, then drivers are required to slow to a reasonable speed or a fixed speed, depending on local laws. Because of the hazards associated with the towing industry, states are now adding tow trucks to the list of emergency vehicles that are covered under the new, tougher Move Over laws.

Know your state’s Move Over law –

Towing companies are hopeful that these new and tougher Move Over laws will have a positive impact on the safety of their drivers.

What can you do?

Simply put, respect and follow the law. Move over one lane to the left when you see flashing lights. If that cannot be done safely, then slow to a reasonable speed or the one determined by your local authorities. Let’s give these tow truck drivers a break. Afterall, they are on the side of the road to help someone in need. Come on America, make sure our tow truck drivers have the space they need and deserve to do their job safely.

Other Related Information:

  • Motor vehicle incidents were the leading cause of towing industry worker deaths, accounting for 64 percent. Contact with objects and equipment was second at 17 percent.
  • For nonfatal injuries, contact with objects and equipment was 34 percent, while overexertion and bodily reaction was 32 percent.
  • Men accounted for 97 percent of the deaths and 94 percent of nonfatal injuries.
  • Most deaths occurred among non-Hispanic white males between the ages of 45 and 54 years old.

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