Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on February 12th, 2020,
by Zane Cagle

Tow Truck Driver Fatally Injured During Service Call Near Springfield, MO

Posted on February 12th, 2020 by Zane Cagle

Move Over laws seek to reduce and prevent needless tragedies on busy highways and interstates.

A tragic fatality occurred last Friday night on Highway 65 north of Springfield, Missouri. Around 8:55 p.m. a 55 year-old gentleman was killed while on a service call. A car driven by a 27 year-old man traveled off the roadway and reportedly struck the tow service employee while he was standing next to another vehicle. One really doesn’t have to travel far down one of the busy interstates in Missouri to see cars stranded on the side of the road or motor vehicle collisions. Each time a vehicle becomes stranded, someone has to respond.   Most often the first to respond are officers. A car parked or stranded on the roadside is very dangerous for other motorists, first responders and tow service providers.

While the details of the incident are not clear and no charges were filed involved the 27 year old driver, many are raising concerns about the dangerous conditions of troopers, road assist personnel and first responders. The Move Over law “requires motorists to change lanes away from the emergency if they are on a multi-lane highway and can safely do so.” The law was passed in MO in 2202 and expanded in 2012. The goal was to provide a safer work environment for law enforcement, emergency vehicles and transportation workers.

According to Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt Clark Parrott, troopers do write tickets when drivers fail to move over. However, troopers cannot be everywhere.  “That highway out there is our office. We’re making traffic stops on the roadways everyday and we can not encourage people enough to slow down and move over,” Parrott said. “First we have to pay attention. When we are too buy doing things inside the car we don’t recognize threats arounds us and a car on the shoulder we need to pay attention to it.”

Move Over Laws

Missouri currently has a Move Over law that requires drivers to move to the left lane when they see an emergency and towing/recovery vehicles on the shoulder of the road.  When these vehicles are on the shoulder, then these individuals are in danger of being hit by other motorists.  While they may be attending to someone having car trouble or worse, a medical emergency, they have to worry about dodging traffic?  This is a huge problem. It really requires so little of most motorists. It does require that each driver pay attention and SLOW DOWN.

So, if the fear of actually striking another car or human being is not horrifying enough, there is a push to make fines higher and laws more strict for those who fail to follow the move over rule.  In this era where distracted driving is at a all time high, the number of fatalities for roadside operators and officers is increasing.  On average, one tow truck driver is killed every six days according to AAA. This is absurd.

Fighting Distracted Driving

It seems few people really argue the need for a Move Over law that currently exists in Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee.  The increase in distracted driving also contributes greatly to the need for strict enforcement of the law. You may think this law really does not impact you, however, you never do know if you will be the one stranded on the roadway. We can guarantee that you will encounter an emergency vehicle on the roadside–probably in the next 24 hours.

If you are ever on the shoulder of the roadway for any reason, it is beyond scary. Participating in accident reconstructions on interstates has been some of the most treacherous work I have done.  It is truly amazing when you are on the shoulder or in the median and you realize that half of the people that drive by never even see you!  And, I was with multiple vehicles and lights. Yet, so many drivers appeared to be in an oblivion and  traveling at 70 plus miles per hour.  How do you miss a truck with lights and flashers?  Yet, this is what our first responders, officers and tow personnel must deal with on a daily basis.  Literally, trusting other drivers to not hit them while they assist someone in need!

Tragic Results

We have represented individuals who were hit while their car was stranded and we’ve represented tow truck drivers and other first responders. In every situation it is even more tragic as most of the time it was preventable if other drivers were paying attention, slowing down and moving over.

Should Your Vehicle Become Disabled on the Highway/Interstate

Attempt to get your vehicle completely out of the roadway. Call 911 immediately.  Many people hesitate to call 911 if their car becomes stranded. You are not necessarily calling emergency personnel for yourself but for the safety of everyone else!!!  Authorities need to be alerted so they may send officers and assist in the safety of the tow service workers in a concerted effort to keep everyone safe.  The safety authorities from the Missouri State Highway Patrol told people to remain in their vehicles, but their advice has been changing in the last few years. Troopers know first hand what others of us also understand, a stranded car creates a safety emergency for many drivers.  Now, troopers insist that you call 911 and move a safe distance from your vehicle. The number of people that are driving distracted greatly increases your likelihood of being rear-ended at a high rate of speed. Thus, they do not recommend that you stay in your vehicle in those situations.  Clearly, do not stand on the roadway and be very, very observant if you are on the shoulder. The shoulder may be the most dangerous place to be.

It all sounds dangerous right?  Standing in the median on an interstate just sounds unsafe because it is.  Thus, call 911 immediately.

Be an Attentive Driver

Failing to be attentive is the number one cause of motor vehicle collisions.  Unfortunately, we live in a time where distracted driving (driving while on a device) consumes many drivers. However, inattentive driving is any kind of driving behavior that takes your focus off of the roadway. Thus, it can include messing with navigation systems, turning your head to talk to other passengers, eating, putting on make up and the list goes on and on.  When you are involved in crash on an interstate, the speed and the impact are far more intense and can result in serious injuries or worse.

If you or a family member has been in a motor vehicle crash, we are available for free consultations 314.276.1681 or toll free 1.800.685.3302