New state-wide ‘move over’ campaign recognizes several local tow operators killed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – AAA launched a new campaign to protect tow operators, first responders assisting motorists.

The towing industry is 15 times deadlier than all other private industries combined. According to the CDC, one tow operator is killed in the line of duty every other week in the United States.

The new campaign includes a video showing the names of tow truck drivers killed in the line of duty in the state of Florida.

It includes Kit Tappen of St. Augustine. Tappen was killed in 2014 while helping a driver whose car had broken down near International Golf Parkway when a tractor-trailer hit him.

The campaign also remembers Napoleon Ballard III of Middleburg. Ballard was killed in 2012 when he became trapped under the front tire of a pickup truck he towed to a home.

The names of two other local men are shown including, Terry McCart and Charles Sharpe.

Terry McCart passed away in 2012 from an accident when his heavy-duty truck blew a tire. According to the International Towing Museum, Terry was a devoted family man who enjoyed spending his free time with his wife and children.

Charles Sharpe was just 21-years-old when he was killed by a drunk driver who struck his car, causing it to flip.

In honor of these men and to stop these preventable deaths from happening again, AAA is urging drivers to do their best to keep tow truckers, drivers, and first responders safe on the roads.

In Florida, The Move Over Law requires drivers to:

  • Move over as soon as it is safe to do so for any authorized vehicles displaying visible signals while stopped on the roadside.
  • Two-Lane Roadway: When approaching an emergency vehicle with lights flashing parked on the side of a two-lane road, you MUST slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit and approach with caution, unless otherwise directed by an emergency worker on the scene.
  • Multi-Lane Roadway: Slow down when you see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle on the roadside, and - if you can - move over into an adjacent lane. If you cannot change lanes, reduce your speed to 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
  • If you are unable to move over due to road or weather conditions, or traffic congestion, slow down and maintain a safe speed while passing.
  • Failure to do so may result in a $60 fine.

Drivers should Slow Down and Move Over for stopped vehicles including:

  • Tow trucks or wreckers
  • Law enforcement
  • Fire department
  • Emergency medical service
  • Department of Transportation
  • Utility and sanitation service

In 2019, there were 182 crashes and over 20,000 citations issued for motorists failing to move over, according to preliminary data provided by the Florida Highway of Safety and Motor Vehicles.

AAA offers these precautionary tips:

  • Remain alert. Avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving.
  • Scan the area ahead. Maintain a visual lead of everything going on 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. This gives you time to see problems ahead and change lanes and adjust speed accordingly.
  • Recognize and respond. Emergencies can occur anywhere on the road. When you see flashing lights, slow down and prepare well in advance to change lanes. Allow others to merge into your lane when necessary.
  • Don’t “tailgate”. Do not follow semi-trucks or other large vehicles too closely. If a truck moves into a left-hand lane, don’t speed around the right side. They are changing lanes for a reason; be prepared to change lanes yourself.
  • Be aware of road conditions. When road conditions are slick, don’t make sudden lane changes which can cause an uncontrollable skid. Change lanes early and move over gradually.
  • If you are unable to move over, slow down to a safe speed taking into consideration that you are approaching a workspace where pedestrians are present.

About the Author: