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Re: What's the Reality of (Future) Tow Operator Deaths ? ? ?

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I'm saddened to have learned about this double fatality. I submit my opinion to piggy-back comments about yesterday's double fatal of the Montana operators killed by preventable actions. What a horrible set of circumstances. Christine and I send our prayers to the families of these towers, and to Spence Hanser and all of his team … so sorry for your loss. Montana through the years has been one of the safer states.


In the comments posted after Ron announced the sad news, I believe Mr. Bob's comments to be spot-on; "Sometimes no matter what you do, someone can end-up in your set-up." Why? … Because traffic’s still flowing. And, I additionally agree with Grump’s message suggesting, “Perhaps it’s time to start completely closing the highways?”


TIM says, the reason for not closing highways was to prevent back-up, "in the que", and not to create secondary impact. Sure, that may have been true back in the mid-2000's when SDMO was created? But, fast-forward to the current state of highway and Interstate affairs, that reasoning does nothing for first responders who continue to be killed in huge-numbers.


It's been said that, keeping traffic flowing saves gas, doesn't create conjestion, doesn't cause loss of income to communities effected by closure, but WHAT ABOUT the lives of tow operators, first responders, and other roadside workers? Why isn't there extensive emphasis, focus and federal funding generated to protect on-highway workers? Would it not be possible to at least put a single patrol car (or DOT trained and equipped truck) far-back in the pack as a slow-moving traffic break? Does it make sense to allow traffic to run full-speed ahead when there's ice-like conditions?


While I agree that LE doesn't make available units to assist, what suggestions can you make so to better create,  "on-scene protections", for first responders ... slow traffic/stop traffic, etc? Do you have any creative ideas? For rural places across the US, assets aren’t available and that’s the cold hard reality. But, because the industry doesn’t stand together to lobby and secure this cause, towers will remain at the mercy of the motoring public.


Note: From my list of approximately 980-tow operator’s killed and archived dating 1934, data shows as many as 10x, “double fatal”, scenarios caused by traffic accidents, crashes into semi-trucks, shootings, turf wars, even tow operator’s crashing into one another. This crash is the 4th double fatal where towers were working outside of their tow trucks when impact occurred. I add that although my list is one of many, numbers may be approximate, yet they provide solid proof as to the dangers the industry will continue to face.


To date, as many as 22x towers have been killed as pedestrian workers on US highways versus 14x towers killed on US highways last year. That’s notably higher than last year while we still have the major holidays AND major weather ahead to deal with.       


One last consideration; when tow operator, Will Ellis, Jr., was struck and knocked off the Don Holt bridge, in Charleston, the driver of the pickup was not criminally charged. If there are no charges brought against the motorist responsible for these two deaths, what message does that send to the motoring public? Accordingly, in all of this ... I’m left with the feeling of complete helplessness for the industry's future. I’m sure you're feeling the same way.     R.

Randall C. Resch

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One of the biggest problems I see with the current laws is the lack of REAL enforcement and a major lack of responsibility laid upon violators, particulary when a driver strikes a road side worker like you had mentioned in the tragic, fatal accident involving Operator Ellis in Charleston. Maybe I am looking at it in too simple of a manner for todays politically - driven laws But, the offending driver KILLED someone. PERIOD. Maybe the driver didnt intend to kill him But he did. That is why there are varying degrees of murder and manslaughter charges in my opinion. Your actions or in-actions for that matter caused the death of another human being. Therefore the appropriate charges should be brought against the driver. Aside from the bevy of moving violations or other associated motor vehicle infractions. If I was to accidently shoot and kill someone with my properly registered and carried side arm while showing it off or something does that relieve me of the legal responsibility that I took someones life? No it does not. I would more than likely face at least a invoulintary  manslaughter charge. Now replace that side arm with a properly registered motor vehicle. Where is the difference?

Start putting these Incompetant, inattentive, Dont give a crap about anything other than them selves drivers in prison and maybe, just maybe people will think twice before racing through another work zone or buzzing another tow operator on the side of the highway. I agree it wont completely stop all these deaths from occuring, but I really feel it would make a good dent in the massive epidemic we are faced with.

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Well said. Replace the tow operators with policemen and then see what kind of charges are brought against the offender. Personally I think my life is just as valuable as a policeman’s. Stricter enforcement of the law is a must. 
As has been stated before, after a tow operator gets killed, then there seems to be plenty of law enforcement available to “protect the scene”. And the highway gets shut down. 

Please, provide us with some protection before we get killed. 


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