CHOKEPOINTS

Tow truck drivers beg for more protection on our roads

Jan 17, 2023, 7:34 AM | Updated: 9:49 am
tow truck...
Freeway Service Patrol driver Jose Francisco Rael, Jr. exits his vehicle on the median along the 60 freeway to aid a stranded driver in Los Angeles, Friday, July 26, 2019. Real has been doing the work for 28 years, and like many fellow drivers has had many close calls, including being ÒtaggedÓ, which the drivers refer to being struck on a shoulder by the mirror of a passing vehicle. (Photo by David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)
(Photo by David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

They clear our roads, many times in the dark of night, with no protection from drivers. Is it time to give tow truck drivers more visibility on our roads?

Cory Wells owns and operates TLC Towing in Southwest Washington. He has been hit while hooking up cars, and one of his employees, Raymond Mitchell, a young husband and father of four, was killed by a passing log truck.

State lawmaker hopes to address concerns over ‘dangerous’ conditions for tow truck drivers

“I shouldn’t be here today; I shouldn’t be that emotional with you people, but I am,” said Cory Wells, a tow truck driver, and Mitchell’s employer, in testimony delivered to the state Senate’s Transportation Committee in late 2021. “I love what I do, and I want to come home to my wife tonight — we need your help.”

Wells will likely be testifying again today when a bipartisan bill is heard that would increase the visibility of tow trucks. It would allow operators to install blue lights on their trucks that they would only activate while on the scene of a crash or a recovery.

The bill is named in honor of Ray Mitchell and Art Anderson, the owner of another Southwest Washington tow company, Affordable Towing, that was hit and killed by a suspected drunk driver while helping a family with a disabled car.

Wells asked lawmakers to consider his office when looking at this bill.

“We don’t have anything out there to protect us,” he testified. “We’re standing on the fog line, and cars are doing 70 miles an hour, inches away.”

Wells also asked that drivers pay better attention to Washington’s slow down/move over law, which does apply to tow trucks and gives them enough room to operate.

“We’re not just that guy across the street,” Wells continued. “We’re your neighbors; we’re the guys who come out and rescue you when your car breaks down. We want to go home at night. We have families, and they love us.”

AAA reports that 24 tow truck drivers die a year on our country’s roads each year.

This blue light bill made it out of both the House and Senate Transportation Committee’s last session, but it did not make it out of the Rules Committee.

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Tow truck drivers beg for more protection on our roads