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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

After Two Recent Deaths, AZ Lawmakers Push "Move Over" Law

Here's a good story from KSWT news:

It's common courtesy to change lanes when you see a car stopped on the side of the highway, but people are still losing their lives on those emergency lanes. Lawmakers are taking a stand. We already change lanes for police and emergency responders, but the existing law fails to protect other people who make a living working on the side of the road. That includes tow truck drivers.

They're the unsung heroes of the open road. It's the job of the tow truck driver to come to our rescue when we're stranded on the highway, but this job comes with certain danger.

"Say a car's coming along and they're on the cell phone or they're chaning the cd or something, and if the car moves over six inches and you're there, you're going to get hit," says Dick Rautenberg, owner of Dick's 25 Hour Towing. He has been in the towing business for 44 years and has never lost an employee on the road. Some folks in the industry would consider him lucky.

Arizona lawmakers are now stepping in with the Move Over bill. The legislation will extend an existing law to require drivers to change lanes when a shoulder is occupied by a tow truck. Since 2002, four Arizona tow truck drivers have been killed by motorists who veered into emergency lanes.

Rautenberg recalls his brush with death.

"I kind of took a step back and was going to pull the chain and a car came by and the chrome strip caught my belt loop. It was as close a call that I've ever had."

Arizona is one of 43 states with a Move Over law and is set to become only one of 17 to include tow trucks. Flares and beacon lights aside, legislators hope to transform the common courtesy into a life-saving law.

Arizona Department of Transportation vehicles are also included in this bill. ADOT gave us a statement saying it is concerned about the safety of its workers.

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