A 48-year-old tow truck driver was killed recently as he stood on the edge of I-75, shortly after 4 a.m. on a Sunday. Three drivers had been pulled over for engaging in a dangerous race on the highway, and Florida State troopers had responded and successfully shut it down. The drivers were arrested. Several tow truck companies were called to help clear the scene and tow the offenders’ vehicles before the morning rush picked up.
According to The Tampa Bay Times, the driver was preparing to load up the last of the three cars when a brand new Honda Ridgeline truck came barreling toward him. The truck slammed into the shoulder, struck the worker and his truck. Investigators say the 44-year-old driver of that Ridgeline was intoxicated, and admitted to driving drunk. Victim died at the scene. Authorities arrested the suspected drunk driver on charges of DUI manslaughter. Decedent was survived by a wife and 11-year-old daughter.
Tow truck drivers have a notoriously dangerous job. Earlier this year, also in the Tampa area, a 36-year-old woman was arrested for allegedly hitting a tow truck driver on the Howard Franklin Bridge in February, leaving him there to die alone. The tow truck driver had been out that night and stopped around 2:20 a.m. to assist two stranded motorists. He was a married, 43-year-old father. The suspect was arrested days later, telling authorities she knew she’d hit someone, but was too afraid to stop and help. Investigators say she has a long history of DUI arrests and convictions.
Our experienced Miami drunk driving accident lawyers know that impaired drivers are one of the main threats to road workers and emergency responders on the highway. That and speeding motorists — particularly in construction zone — are a major hazard. That’s one of the reasons the state passed a “Move Over Law,” codified in F.S. 316.126 that requires any motorist approaching an authorized emergency vehicle (including tow trucks, and in addition to utility service vehicles, sanitation vehicles and wreckers) to vacate the lane closest to that vehicle.
Since 2010, all 50 states (but not the District of Columbia) have some type of move-over law, and 44 of those have approved new measures or improved existing laws since that time.
Yet these type of accidents still occur far too frequently.
The Emergency Responder Safety Institute reports an average of six-to-eight fire rescue and EMS workers are killed in or near moving traffic annually. The same goes for 10 to 12 police officers, as well as 50 tow truck operators. It’s not clear how many of those are struck due to move-over violations or how many are related to other offenses.
Others who work on or along the highway are extremely vulnerable too. Vehicles are typically driving past at high speeds and there is often no barrier between the workers and the roadway. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports in 2013, there were almost 68,000 crashes that occurred in work zones. Although most of those don’t result in a fatality, 15 percent resulted in a possible injury, 9 percent in a non-incapacitating injury, 2.5 percent in an incapacitating injury and 0.4 percent in a fatal injury.
In many cases, an experienced injury attorney can help grieving families obtain the compensation they deserve, both through workers’ compensation claims and third-party litigation of others who may be responsible.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Troopers: Tow truck driver hit, killed by drunk driver on I-75, Oct. 9, 2016, Fox 13 News
More Blog Entries:
Restaurant Forfeits Liquor License After Over-Serving Driver, Aug. 2, 2016, Miami Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog