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100-Year Count - Tow Operator Fatalitites

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Hi All ... I'd like to say, "Happy New Year", but, it looks like 2019 is off to a not so happy start.


That being said, I recently took a look back at my 20-year (plus) accounting of tow operator fatalities tand tow operator death that I've been keeping. I'd like to share that accounting with you.


In the 100-plus years since Ernet Holmes invented the tow truck, I personally have confirmed and accounted for as many as 920-tow operators killed in the line of duty, on-the-highways, industrial accidents, traffic accidents, solo rollovers, standing or working on the white-line, vehicles entering the shoulder environment, ejected with no seatbelts, medical issues, heart attacks, shootings, during PPI's and repos, or, hit by trains. Each fatality includes date, time, incident, location, city, state, world continent, reason, website link, and a short narrative as to what occurred to cause the fatality. The matrix is quite inclusive and paints a grim industry story.


As you know, there hasn't been a formal accounting or data retention by law enforcement (until recently) to reflect to tow operator fatalities or death other than OSHA. And, my count comes from many, many resources that also have a partially accurate accounting like mine, to include coming from the Internet and specialty searches. My accounting does list towers killed in Japan, China, Mexico, Russia, the UK, England, South Wales, Australia, South Africa, Palestine, New Zealand, Germany, Brazil and Canada. What I don't have or can't confirm are those other tow operator fatalities and job related deaths that weren't uncounted for or not known due to lack of reporting or someone simply not caring.


The point I make, the fatality rate amoungst tow operators is extreme to say the least, yet, we towers keep on conducting the same old work in the same old ways that continues to see tow operators slaughtered ... yes slaughtered on the world's highways.  For 2018, I tallied as many as 49-tower's killed, out-numbering the past 10-years with 2008 accounting for 56-lost souls.  While I must commend the Wall of the Fallen committee for recognizing operator's lost in the line-of-duty, I'm saddened and angered that this rapid pace doesn't appear to be subsiding.


Many of you participated in Spirit Ride in the past two years hoping to bring awareness to the motoring public. Yet, the motoring public continues to kill, injure and main tow operators who are simply trying to help them. at what point do we, as an industry, say, "Enough is enough", even if that means not responding to calls on the world's high-speed highways? The way things are going, in the next few more years, that number is likely to reach 1,000. With the world's pandemic of DUI, cell phones, distracted driving and motorist incompetence, I'm fearful for the future of all tow operators because it seems that NOTHING'S getting done to prevent more fatalities from happening. And, for that ... I'm  truly sorry.    R.

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