Tow truck drivers rally to protect their own lives
LONDON, ONT. -- Tow truck drivers across the province are planning 'Slow Down, Move Over' awareness rallies for next week.
The general manager of London’s 519 Tow, Mitchel MacDonald, says it’s an issue to which the public still isn’t paying enough attention.
“I was hit in the side of the head with a mirror, luckily it was just the mirror, and it knocked me unconscious for a couple of minutes. Both drivers never stopped.”
In Nov. 2019, tow truck operator Todd Burgess was killed after stopping to help a driver in a ditch south of Port Perry.
His death is top of mind as MacDonald, and others, organize events taking place next Wednesday and Thursday across the province highlighting the dangers of driving a tow truck.
It's an issue MacDonald says persists across North America
“Every six days a tow truck driver is being hit and/or killed on the highway. So this initiative is to get people to understand that you do need to slow down and move over.”
Ontario passed its 'Slow Down, Move Over' law in 2015. It includes a minimum $490 fine and three demerit points, but MacDonald says since the time it has taken effect he’s seen very little change in behaviour.
He says the majority of transport truck drivers tend to follow the rules but many other drivers do not, with distracted driving actually increasing the danger.
“There’s too much of the texting and taking photos or wanting that next social media picture when our lives are at stake.”
MacDonald says flashing lights and reflective gear can only provide so much protection. Operators have to rely on other drivers to follow the rules, and on their own awareness and instincts.
“If you hear screeching breaks and squealing tires, jump for the ditch. If not, it could be the end of your shift for the night. And not in a good way.”
The rally in London in planned for Wednesday evening. It will start at the Flying J truck stop on Highbury Avenue, just south of Highway 401.
It will travel north on Highbury, stopping near the Northland Mall at the corner of Huron and Highbury. That is where drivers will line the east side of Highbury with lights flashing to draw attention to their concerns.