AAA: A tow truck driver is killed every 6 days. Local drivers want you to know to move over for them

Published: Jan. 8, 2020 at 4:31 PM EST
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Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020

News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- A tow truck driver is killed every 6 days, according to AAA.

The Georgia move-over law requires drivers to move-over if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder.

But did you know tow trucks are considered an emergency vehicle? Drivers are hoping others are more aware of them.

It’s an adrenaline rush for many of those drivers giving roadside assistance. It's the 8th day of the year and there has already been six tow truck operators killed nationally.

Justin Watkins, owner of Watkins Towing, knows first-hand that many people don’t hit the brakes for tow truck drivers.

“When we put our boots and get out the door, we never know if we are coming back,” Watkins said.

Watkins has been towing cars for nearly 10 years, and it’s a problem he says he sees all the time in our area.

“I have had plenty of close calls where I had to jump out of the way,” Watkins said.

When pulling over on the highway to tow a car, in a 5-minue span, we counted about 25 drivers who didn't slow down or move over.

“I try to wait for a gap in traffic to actually get out of the truck,” Watkins said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accidents are the leading cause of death for tow truck drivers.

Experts estimate a rate of almost 43 deaths per 100,000 workers. For all other industries, that number is only about three.

“Barely move the wheel, and that’s our life,” Watkins said.

The line between life and death for drivers is thin.

“Your heart sinks ‘cause you never know if that person is going to be texting or not paying attention,” Watkins said.

But Watkins hopes speaking out will help keep him and other tow truck drivers safe. He's got a 7-year-old daughter he wants to make it home to every night.

If that's not enough to slow you down, listen to this. If you get caught failing to change lanes -- or not slowing down -- a ticket can run you $500 and three points on your license.

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