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Tow truck drivers celebrate new roadside safety bill progress (MT)


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MISSOULA, Mont. - Tow truck drivers across the state are celebrating after the House of Representatives passed a bill that will hopefully make their crews safer as they work on the side of the road. 

 

HB 264 revises the rules for passing emergency and law enforcement vehicles, including tow trucks. If passed, people who do not slow down and move over for these vehicles could face more serious consequences, like be charged with reckless endangerment of emergency personnel. For a first offense, a person could be imprisoned for up to 90 days and fined up to $500. For a second offense, a person could be imprisoned for up to six months and fined up to $1,000. 

 

Tow truck drivers out of Hamilton and Florence shared their support for this bill. They said it's needed now more than ever after two tow truck drivers were struck and killed on I-90 in fall 2020. Timothy Ferguson is a tow truck driver for Wimp's Body Works. He shared his own close call last week when a car nearly hit him and ruined his traffic cones while he was responding to a call on Highway 93 S. He said it's like people just don't care about other people's lives. 

 

"They're too tunnel-visioned," Ferguson said. "You know, I have four kids and I'd like to go home to them every night and these people just don't take that into consideration."

 

Sasha Olson and Rodney Herriot own American Towing and Recovery out of Florence. They echoed Ferguson's frustrations. They shared cars and semis don't always slow down, they've had to dive over their trucks to avoid getting hit, cars have driven over flares and have purposely hit their cones. 

 

"It makes me mad," Herriot said. "It frustrates me. It aggravates me. Like I was saying earlier, it's my office. If you could put it into perspective, how would people think if I came through their office at 70 miles per hour while they're trying to work. You know, and then it makes your heart pump, it makes you nervous, it makes you half scared sometimes because you don't know if you're going home that night." 

 

The House of Representatives passed the bill on March 1. It will now move to the Senate for debate. 

 

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