At the invitation of Wes Passmore, operator of Classic Towing and Recovery, I attended the Slow Down, Move Over rally in Hueytown, Alabama. The rally was held to bring awareness to the dangers of being a tow operator on the side of the road in traffic. Though there are state laws requiring drivers to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles, plenty of drivers don’t. That results in tow operators getting injured and even killed while they’re working on the side of the road.
An October 2019 Tow Times article stated that there are about 43 fatalities per 100,000 tow operators each year, a finding from a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health study. (The article also explains that, according to the study, this is more than 15 times the amount of fatalities in other American private industries combined.) It is not difficult to see why this issue is so important to the towing community.
Tow truck operators from all over the region – even as far as Mississippi and Louisiana – arrived to display their trucks and drive in the rally. There were many Jefferson County men in blue there to support the event as well. While windy, it ended up reaching a beautiful, sunny 68°F, making it a great day for an outdoor event. To make the event family-friendly, there was live music and food trucks at both the starting point and the final destination.
Wes Passmore spoke at the beginning of the event, giving directions and rules for the rally. He also announced that all of the proceeds from the T-shirt sales were going to go towards starting a survivor fund for the family members of tow operators killed in the line of duty. (He explained that he would be working with the Alabama Tow Association to set up the fund.) Kevin Goodyear (of Kevin Goodyear Towing in Alabama) prayed over the event and the safety of all tow operators before we all hopped in our vehicles to make the run.
The local police force held up traffic for us to get on I-495 and closed off entrance ramps to keep all 300 participants in the rally together. It was a unique experience driving 45 mph in a procession down the interstate with blue lights and sirens all around in support. It was awesome to watch the tow operators show off their trucks and ride with their families. (In fact, many kids attended the Slow Down, Move Over event and were fascinated by all of the tractors and large rotators!)
I was glad to be a part of the Slow Down, Move Over Rally and to see such a large amount of support for the event. This continues to be a serious issue, and it’s important to raise awareness about it among drivers so that the roads can be a safer place for everyone – including tow truck operators.
Padilla, Maria T. “Tow Operator Fatalities in 2019 Are Tragically High.”
Tow Times, Oct. 2019, p. 41.