Go Slow When You Spot a Tow

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Texas drivers warned speeding past can lead to fine

AUSTIN— Texas drivers will have an added reason to slow down when approaching a tow truck in action this week. Highway Patrol is planning on ticketing drivers who speed through roadside towing scenes, along with a clear message.

It began as an effort to protect emergency workers nearly a decade ago, but new language in the law now includes tow truck drivers as well. The risk — drivers speeding through an accident scene only to make matters much worse by striking someone with their vehicle.

Known as the Move Over, Slow Down Law in Texas, it began after a patrolman was struck and killed during a routine traffic stop almost a decade ago. It now mandates that drivers approaching a scene with the flashing lights of a stopped emergency vehicle – fire, police or medic – must lower their speed to 20 miles under the limit.

Until only a year ago the language of the law did not include tow truck drivers. Now that the wording has been corrected, the highway patrol has moved to the next step – enforcement. Violators could face fines up to $200 according to the statute.

“The tow truck industry has never been recognized as a first responder, and it’s about time,” says Mike Scully, a tower out of Houston. “This was long overdue.”
Severe injury and loss of life has been a longstanding threat to any roadside worker, from construction sites to accident scenes. Police dashboard cameras have, in recent years, captured numerous vehicles striking officers making traffic stops. In many of these cases, the driver continues ahead without stopping.

Raising public awareness to this issue has included issuing a raft of tickets to motorists who speed past stopped police cruisers. This week Texas Highway Patrol will be on the watch specifically for drivers who do not comply when tow trucks are in use.

The state’s electronic roadside display will carry an added new message this week to reinforce to drivers that speeding past a stopped tow truck is indeed against the law.

Bob Kaufman, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, stressed the importance of the operation.

“This is just an opportunity for us to bring some attention to this new law that was passed” he said, “that frankly not many people know about,” he said.

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