You have loaded up your RV and have finally pulled out of your driveway. Your much-anticipated camping trip has finally begun. You’re cruising down the highway when you see a tow truck stopped on the side of the road to help the unfortunate traveler who has had a flat tire. What do you do?
Did you know that there is a “Move Over Law”? It is broken every day by many people as about 70% of Americans have never heard of this law. Have you? This extremely important and life-saving law requires drivers to move over and change lanes in order to give safe clearance to emergency responders, tow truck drivers and department of transportation workers.
The Move Over Law originated in the U.S. after James Garcia, a paramedic from South Carolina, was struck and injured at an accident scene on January 24, 1994. It was about 6:30 a.m. and a driver was distracted while looking at the accident scene when he hit Garcia. The driver slowed down to 45 mph but it was still too fast. Garcia smashed into the windshield and bounced off over the van. He was extremely lucky that his only injuries were a broken left leg and arm. Garcia spent the following year working with his state legislature, and on March 1996, the United State’s first “Move Over Law” was passed.
By July 2012, all of the states across the country have implemented the Move Over Law. The law started with protecting police officers, paramedics and fire fighters and has since expanded to protecting towing and recovery truck drivers and further expanded to include Department of Transportation workers. It is up to every single motorist to do the right thing – always be paying attention to the road and start noticing tow truck operators working alongside emergency responders.
To emphasize the importance of this law and to honor towing operators killed in the line of service, the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum (ITRHFM) dedicated the Wall of the Fallen on September 9, 2006. The mission statement of the Wall of the Fallen reads: “To honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, to generate public awareness of the dangers involved in the towing and recovery industry and to permanently record and commemorate those involved in fatalities in the towing and recovery industry.” Sadly, the wall now includes over 400 names.
“I have attended far too many funerals of friends and colleagues who have fallen victim to drivers not paying attention,” said Bud Gruber, president of Bald Eagle Towing & Recovery, Inc in Naples, Florida. Bud was also the former chairman of the Towing and Recovery Association of America’s (TRAA) Communications Committee where he tirelessly advocates for the safety of tow truck operators and other roadside assistance providers.
“I understand that it can be extremely challenging for RVers to move over,” said Bud. “After all, other motorists won’t always let you in their lane. The best thing to do is to always be aware of your surroundings and keep looking far enough ahead to anticipate when you might need to slow down.”
The specifics of the “Move Over Law”, as well as the fines for breaking this law, vary from state to state. In Texas, for example, the law states that motorists are required to reduce speed, not to exceed 20 mph less than a posted speed limit of 25 mph or more, or not more than 5 mph when the posted speed limit is under 25 mph. Failure to follow the safety practices is a misdemeanor and could result in fines up to $200. If the violation results in property damage, the fine could be as much as $500. Finally, if the violation results in personal injury, violators could even serve jail time. To find the specifics of the “Move Over Law” in your area, visit www.moveoverlaws.com.
If you find yourself in need of a tow or roadside assistance, please stay in your vehicle whenever possible. If you are driving and see flashing lights or anyone outside of their vehicle near the highway, please remember that tow truck drivers risk their lives every day to come to the aid of those who have a breakdown, flat tire or who have been in an accident. They deserve the utmost respect and the thoughtful consideration of all drivers to slow down and move over.
Tom W. SC~ “I’d give you a +12 if I could. Coach-Net rep Haley and Coach-Net dispatch rep Leonard were great to work. They explained my options and got me the help I needed. ‘Fleet Service Center’ was dispatched to do the work. Their rep (Dave I think) was fantastic. Professional and very skilled. I couldn’t be happier. I will stay with Coach-Net as long as I RV and recommend it to everyone I have a chance to.”