Tow truck driver’s death in Texas calls traffic safety into question

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Updated May 17, 2017

The death of a Texas tow truck driver last week has prompted state officials there to consider implementing new public awareness campaigns that would remind drivers that the state’s Move Over or Slow Down law also applies to tow trucks that have stopped to recover vehicles.

Thirty-nine-year-old Scott Bowles of Killeen, Texas was struck and killed by a minivan last Thursday morning as he was recovering a vehicle on Interstate 14 (formerly U.S. 190) in Harker Heights, just west of Killeen. Bowles is survived by his wife and two children.

Public awareness campaigns for the state’s Move Over or Slow Down law have mostly focused on law enforcement vehicles, though the law also pertains to tow trucks. Motorists are required to move over one lane away from stopped, vocational vehicles or slow down at least 20 mph if a buffer lane is not available.

Now the Texas Department of Transportation is thinking of changing its advertising approach so that more drivers realize that they also have to move over or slow down for tow trucks, according to the Temple Daily Telegram.

Though appreciative of the gesture, a tow truck driver from nearby Temple, Texas said the state’s concerns are really too little, too late.

“I’m glad they’re going to consider it, but considering it is a long way from doing it,” said Matt Jarma with Temple Towing.

Texas amended its Move Over/Slow Down law in 2011 to include tow trucks displaying emergency lights.

Texas DOT said it has used electronic signs along highways to remind drivers to either move over or slow down for tow trucks.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 390 workers were killed in struck-by incidents in 2005, accounting for seven percent of all fatal occupational injuries.

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