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Letter: Too many people killed needlessly while working on the side of the road


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As a supervisor for a local towing company, I am becoming more and more frustrated and saddened by witnessing drivers not slowing down or moving over while our operators are working on the side of our roadways and highways.


Recently, while checking on one of our drivers performing a boost service on Highway 55 heading west just before Lively, he had his beacons and four-way flashers on, indicating that he was there working, while I was also there with my four-way flashers on. Only a few drivers moved over, while the majority (roughly 30) didn't slow down nor move over to the other lane.


This is just one incident of many our drivers face every day, and it has to stop. I don't believe the average person is aware of this law, so I have taken a snippet from the Ontario Government website to hopefully educate the public in hopes of saving a tow truck driver's life. 


Drivers can be charged if they don't slow down, or move over when safe to do so, near emergency vehicles or tow trucks that are stopped with sirens or lights flashing.


A first offence comes with a fine between $400 and $2,000, three demerit points and a possible suspension of driver's licence for up to two years.


Subsequent offences (within five years) comes with a $1,000 to $4,000 fine, three demerit point, possible jail time (up to six months) and possible suspension of driver's licence for up to two years.


Putting the fines and penalties aside, moving over and slowing down comes down to common sense. 


Too many people are killed needlessly working on the side of the road everyday where a driver could easily make the decision to slow down and move over, however, they sometimes don't and the result is most times deadly. 


Please consider others and let our drivers make it home safely to their loved ones.


Scott Dormer



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I'd like to respond to what's read in letter and not make it sound like it's flippant or demeaning. I appreciate that Scott took time to write the letter as it brings to the forefront the deadly reality that exists in this industry. It's definitely in-line with, OPP Sergeant Kerry Schmidt's, plea for slow-down and move over after a Canadian tower was killed November 2019. Having archived and reviewed as many as 300-tow operator fatalites that have occurred on the world's highways and shoulders, there's a huge percentage of investigations that have determined, suggested or reported that tow operators were standing, working and walking on the white-line when they were struck. The number presented herein doesn't represent those who were hit and survived, so you know there's a gigantic number of tow operator strikes floating around. Scott ... I feel that same frustration.


While Scott makes mention of a noticible failure for drivers to SDMO, that's the reality of highway work and it's not going to change anytime soon. So, tower's themselves have to be that much more dilligent and aware of their environment. Through years of lessons learned as to the reasons why towers are repeatedly struck, injured and killed, in many cases, towers themselves FAIL to prepare an active work zone to announce their presence, and then work on the white-line side of traffic. While Scott mentions that his driver's over-head emergency lights were turned-on, there was no mention that flares, cones or triangles were set in-place to announce a presence and identify their work zone. There's also mention that his tower was in-process of, "performing a boost service", on the highway versus that of load-it-quickly and get off the highway. Like changing someone's tire, attempting to jump-start a vehicle on the highway simply increases time of scene which adds to the potential of being struck. Not too mention, a vehicle that was just jumped-started may stall and die at that very moment the vehicle's driver attempts to pull into traffic moving at speed. 


It's my opinion that service calls on any highway are too risky and should be tow only scenarios. Accordingly, the towing and recovery industry NEEDS a culture change that accepts the FACT that motorists are not going to slow down and move over. We towers can't change their behaviors of distracted drivers, texting or driving while drunk, but we CAN change the way we work highway and shoulder events. While Scott's letter is informational and is directed to this audience, it tell's us what we already know and experience. In all due respect to Scott's letter, every tow company must have solid response protocol in-place and active. Regardless if a motorist racks-up one, two, or three, "demerit points", or a, "suspension", on their license, for any one response, there are thousands of vehicles to pass a tow truck or carrier during a single tow/service scenario. 


Where tow operator survival is to happen, towers MUST be smart about the manner they work when responding to highway calls. Chances are, the highway patrol or OPP won't be on-scene. And, even if they were, they too are nothing more than a false sense of security. If there's a fast way to prevent the chance of being struck, its taking the necessary steps to be seen and working quickly to lessen operator exposure. Scott's letter is one of those constant reminders that danger exists on every call. So, if these dangers are known to us as an industry, why do tower's continue to put themselves in harm's way?      R.

Edited by rreschran
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Randall C. Resch

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