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Tow truck operator hit and killed while loading vehicle in Surry County (NC)

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ELKIN, N.C. —

A tow truck operator was hit and killed on Saturday night, according to Surry County emergency officials.

Surry County Emergency Medical Services director John Shelton said the operator was attempting to load a vehicle that had broken down. Shelton said he was hit and killed shortly before 7:30 p.m. by a driver traveling on Highway 268 Bypass West.

 

Officials have not identified the operator. The circumstances surrounding the crash are still under investigation by the Elkin Police Department and Highway Patrol.

 

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Wishful thinking that it will stop happening. Had a call a couple months ago vehicle 4x4 tierod broke and the truck was stopped on the bridge of I-75 on the white line with a barrier.

long story short I refused to tow the vehicle do to my safety. Police wouldn’t not respond and it was a Friday night at 2300 hrs. Told the customer that he would have to wait or call someone else. Not worth it at all. I will say that road flares do seem to work well. And I use them all the time. They are costly to buy but damn well worth it.

please be careful and pay attention to where and what type of conditions you are going to work in and follow your gut and senses! They are usually right.

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Flares are a great roadside safety item and should be a charge-able item to be written on the invoice. The issue with one tower not takng the highway call without the police ... another company will as there's no solidarity in towers coming together in this fight againt distracted drivers. We send our prayers.    R. 

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so sad I didn't realize how many tow operators are hurt and killed doing their everyday job its a shame and sad to say I don't see it getting any better with the new generation and the use of cell phones and cars coming with touch screens computers in them.  It doesn't matter how many light you have on the truck it seems that doesn't help. I was talking to a local tow guy and he told me he runs with his light off because if he has his lights on cars shoot out in front of him to be in front of him because they think he will be slow.  so he says he noticed with his lights off he has less cars come out in front of him. I guess when I thought about what he said it made sense to me I never understood why trucks ran with there light on while towing a car.  

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My heart goes out to his family and friends. Just had a close call 2 nights ago. Parked on the shoulder of the road with the front tire just over the white line; 2 NHP cruisers there with lights flashing. 18 wheeler had to lockup brakes and swerve to avoid hitting front of my truck. I would have been completely off of road, but road market prevented me. NHP went after trucker to “ give him a good talking to”. In my case I think NHPs super bright LED light bars actually blind on coming traffic to the hazard ahead. 

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Another Brother lost.... Rest easy Operator... Your shift is over.. We MUST keep pushing the slow down move over campaign and there MUST be stricter enforcement of this law.... "a good talking to" is useless.... severe fines, suspension of licenses for repeat offenses and JAIL for multiple offenses.. people just simply dont care because its a slap on the wrist or a " good talking to" for violating the law... of course this is just my opinion of how i see the law enforced around where i am.... its a joke and im constantly pushing for better enforcement here.. please be safe out there brothers... we have to watch for ourselves because no one else is..

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I am so sorry to hear another tow man has lost there life. This is happing all the time what is wrong with people that they just can’t give us the room we need are just slowdown.   We all have families that want us home safe. My prayers to this mans family god speed sur

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I am saying sorry to hear of this loss all too often anymore. When are we going to band together as a brotherhood and just stop responding until our safety is protected?

 

If we were highway maintenance workers we would have proper temporary traffic control measures most likely including a crash attenuator truck. Law enforcement presence is nice, although all too often I see officers that do not use their warning lights properly or exercise poor parking discipline. Ideally the officer providing traffic control should be upstream of your location quite a bit rather than just a few foot behind the disabled vehicle you are loading.

 

Flares are an excellent device for notifying oncoming traffic, and they should be invoiced for on any call they are deployed. Studies show that motorists will not slow down unless they perceive a need to do so, and the move over law is not enough of a need for them to comply. Flares seem to convey a sense of urgency, as does police presence.

 

Keep in mind, even with police presence and proper placement of blocker apparatus, fire/ems and law enforcement officers (combined) are still being struck-by vehicles at nearly the same rate towers are. There is no perfect solution, although a barrier vehicle and uniform lighting policy regarding usage and color will make a difference.

 

I would like to see a traffic unit deployed to all highway calls regardless of source, meaning law enforcement, private customer or motor club would all get invoiced for not only the tow or service call but also the traffic management unit. A simple 1/2 ton van or pickup truck with a raised arrow/message board that is towing a crash attenuator trailer would be sufficient in most cases. Something like this;

 

Crash-Attenuator-Trailer.jpg

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12 hours ago, Jones Auto & Towing said:

Wishful thinking that it will stop happening. Had a call a couple months ago vehicle 4x4 tierod broke and the truck was stopped on the bridge of I-75 on the white line with a barrier.

long story short I refused to tow the vehicle do to my safety. Police wouldn’t not respond and it was a Friday night at 2300 hrs. Told the customer that he would have to wait or call someone else. Not worth it at all. I will say that road flares do seem to work well. And I use them all the time. They are costly to buy but damn well worth it.

please be careful and pay attention to where and what type of conditions you are going to work in and follow your gut and senses! They are usually right.

That is what it will take to assist in keeping more people alive.  If it is not safe, do not do it. If pd will not assist you and block a lane, then let them work a mva, and fill out the paperwork. NO piece4 of pig iron and plastic is worth your life.

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Over the last year I have called the Colorado State Patrol reporting distracted drivers and drivers not slowing down and moving over that I have observed while out on calls. Some of my calls were to report drivers not slowing and moving over for law enforcement including one last week for a State Trooper who was pulled of the highway with strobes on. All these reports I have made have the same thing in common. Not one call back or follow up. Two weeks ago I pulled in behind a fellow tower who was just beginning his recovery and was asked to leave by the State Trooper on scene who was positioned at the very front of the scene. He informed me the three triangles placed by the tower were sufficient and I was just complicating things?????

 

I'm not sure what the right answer is anymore other than you better realize your on your own out there and you need to trust yourself and your gut. I too have started refusing calls where the vehicle is in dangerous situations. Yes, there will always be a tower out there who will take that call after you turn it down and that is their decision to do so. All this talk of additional resources to make these calls safer sounds great and maybe there is something there? We all know that motor clubs, if required by their insurance contracts have to start asking providers like us to use things like flares we either will not get paid a fare rate for them or even be allowed to invoice them at all just like providing compressed air. I don't know if I even call a law enforcement agency for assistance at this point they would show up. I know I have arrived on numerous breakdown scenes where a law enforcement is already present to watch them immediately drive off upon seeing me pull up.

 

It's just like pricing your services. If enough of us stick to our guns we can make a change. It's like anything else, the change has to start taking place on the local level. Start talking to your fellow towers, law enforcement, family, friends, and anybody that will listen. Don't be afraid to turn a job down if it's too dangerous in your mind. Slow down and take your time as well and wait for those brakes in traffic. I do.

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Just as an electrician will not work outside in the rain, this industry needs to adopt practices that will ensure the safety of operators. It is up to the operator to put himself or herself in the safest possible situation and mitigate the risk of harm or death. The police will not do it, the move over law will not do it, and your employer will not do it. It is up to you to have a safe work environment. And ensure that you go home to your family.

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Yes, I do not depend on law enforcement to help with my job. I own my company so with that said I will buy flares it’s built in on my pricing which works for me. But guys and gals who work for towing companies need to simply ask for flares and see if you get them. Or buy them your self. I don’t use them all that much but when I do they are definitely needed and a big help. And place the flares a good length behind your vehicle spread them out to give the appearance of something dangerous ahead. It’s Psychological, in that the drivers can’t really understand what’s ahead and it looks serious and therefore they slow down or move over and they tend to keep there eyes on the road in my observations. One other piece of lighting I like is the Jerr dan warning lights that mount in the side bed marker light locations. Again it’s abnormal to see rear lights so low and to the side of a vehicle that it really makes SOME of the drivers slow down or move over.. but not always of course. Talk to your manager or owner and calmly voice your concerns. I never run my lights while going down the road. Once I pull out and get up to speed I turn them off. Sometimes I don’t even turn them on at all. Depends on the situation. I will give my turn signal when pulling to the shoulder of the highway and turn my beacons on a good ways out as I’m slowing down to pull over to just give a heads up to motorists that I’m stopping or coming to a crawl to get over. My point is don’t over use your lights and in some occasions run everything you got. If you blind people in the right conditions that will not help you. And being tow truck operators you see various conditions monthly and the affects of police and fire lights have on you when your pulling up or going past. So keep that in mind.

I totally understand a operator not wanting to tell there boss that they don’t feel safe and don’t want to complete the task. Hell you may get fired! Right? But if you work for that kind of company only you can decide your next step. Remember there isn’t anything worth getting seriously hurt or death in a towing job. I’m using a pratice now days that I like very much and it goes like this.. don’t back strait up behind you car, instead back up and turn your truck to a 20 to 35 degree angle (nose of your truck closer to the ditch rear of bed closer to road) and 20 to 30 feet away from the vehicle. Yes you will winch a little longer, at this point get the keys and get the customer out of your way and to a safer area or in your truck with seat belt on. Wait for traffic and hook to vehicle once you are hooked wait for traffic and put car in neutral and turn wheels toward your bed of course and now you have great visibility from the passenger side controls and believe me it’s nice. Also I get that sometimes it not the best to winch a car from a perfectly flat surface to a tow truck that is slanted because of clearance issues but I do it anyway because it’s safer and if need be throw a board on the passenger side ramp and all is good. Now you have given yourself way more visibility and more distance from the dumb lane. It works for me.

Good luck to all of my fellow towers and be safe as you can.

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