When on the road, whether it be in a vehicle or as a pedestrian, you are put in very high danger. Although roads today are built with enhanced safety features such as warning signs, speed limit signs, and traffic lights, if drivers fail to follow these traffic regulations, vehicle accidents are going to continue to occur, but did you know that tow truck drivers have a high rate of injury on the road?
Dangers faced by tow truck drivers in Mississippi
Tow truck drivers are responsible for driving to the site of a vehicle accident or breakdown, attaching the damaged vehicle to their truck, and towing the vehicle safely back to a service station. However, they face a variety of risks on the roads and highways.
- Fatigue and drowsiness. Towing companies are on duty all day and night, so many drivers work very long hours behind the wheel. Therefore, they are at a greater risk of being involved in a car accident. Fatigue can also be a factor due to the many hours spent on the road. Driving while tired is very dangerous in general for any driver. However, a tow truck driver could spend their entire day driving. Even slight drowsiness reduces alertness, reaction time, judgment, and decision-making while on the road.
- Challenging to drive. Since tow trucks are designed for towing disabled vehicles, it takes skill and experience to maneuver and control a tow truck properly. There is actually a huge difference between driving an unloaded tow truck and one with an actual vehicle attached to it. Different towed vehicles affect the truck in a variety of ways, thus posing a challenge for the driver. Since tow trucks are considered less maneuverable than the vehicle you are most likely driving, tow truck drivers are at a higher risk of being involved in a crash.
- Physically demanding. The nature of the job itself is physically demanding which can cause back issues or other health-related problems.
- Reckless and careless drivers. Other drivers on the road can be harmful to a tow truck driver by driving recklessly to pass them and driving in their blind spots.
- Passing vehicles. Another dangerous scenario that can happen to a tow truck driver is being struck by a passing vehicle while they are tending to another vehicle on the side of the road. Tow truck drivers are often outside of their vehicles while providing assistance to disabled cars. This can put them in very dangerous situations, especially on busy highways and in the dark.
- The unpredictable Mississippi weather. Weather conditions also present challenges to tow truck drivers. With rain, snow, and storms, there is a greater risk of a broken down vehicle or an accident. Tow truck drivers are needed in these situations to rescue other vehicles. They also must navigate a huge truck with another vehicle attached in bad weather conditions, which adds even more risk.
- Violence is also a threat to tow truck drivers. They risk facing drivers who become angry and upset. There have been instances of drivers being attacked and robbed.
Tips to avoid accidents as a tow truck driver
Surprisingly, working in the towing industry is one of the most dangerous jobs there is and has a fatality risk nearly 15 times greater than other workers in private industries. Let’s look at some ways to avoid these accidents:
- Proper equipment: Tow truck drivers need to have proper safety equipment. Heavy-duty gloves are helpful for handling heavy loads. High visibility clothing such as a hat, vest, and pants are critical for them to be seen from a distance by other drivers and pedestrians, especially at night.
- Driver training: Tow truck drivers require special accredited training and testing. The training will provide the knowledge needed to operate the tow truck safely and handle different scenarios that could pop up. Testing will ensure that they can properly maneuver, operate, and handle a tow truck.
- Awareness of blind spots: Blind spots on a tow truck can be much larger than a regular vehicle and can hide pedestrians and other vehicles. It is important for tow truck drivers to be very aware of this when changing lanes and making turns. They need to ensure their mirrors are set and working properly and be very aware of their surroundings.
- Fatigue awareness: It is important for a tow truck driver to know when they are too tired and do not have the stamina to keep going. They need to be aware of when it is just too dangerous and should stop and take a break when needed.
Tips to avoid harm to a tow truck driver
There are also safety tips drivers can follow to keep tow truck drivers safe while on the road.
- Allow the right of way: The right of way is not a privilege; it’s the law. Always yield to a tow truck driver, and let them go before you to avoid any mishap.
- Proper distance: One of the basic driving rules to follow is to give space to the car in front of you. With tow trucks, because of their immense size, they require far more space than regular ones, especially as they have another car behind them.
- Blind spot avoidance: Drivers should avoid positioning themselves in the tow truck drivers’ blind spots. By avoiding these areas, you can help tow truck drivers stay safe on the road without a problem.
- Slow down and move over: If you happen to notice an accident or any type of emergency vehicle, you are encouraged to gradually brake. This will give you the opportunity to give you more time/space to maneuver around any stopped vehicles in sight.
After you have broken down and called for tow truck service, do not leave your vehicle to flag them down or get their attention. This causes more harm because their focus is on you rather than on the road. Not only is the tow truck driver in danger, but, also puts you and other drivers on the road in danger as well. Instead, when you break down, remain in your car, and keep your seatbelt secured.
They will give you instructions when they arrive at the site of the accident. They are the ones trained, not you. They know how to handle roadside emergencies and thus how to keep both you and them safe throughout the process. If you follow their directions precisely, the experience will be much safer.
The injury attorneys at Merkel & Cocke, P.A. has experience with all types of vehicle accidents, including those involving tow trucks. We are here for you in Mississippi if you need us. Call us today at 662-627-9641, or submit our contact form for a free consultation. We have offices in Jackson, Clarksdale, Greenville and Oxford.
After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School in 1975, Mr. Cocke and Mr. Merkel established Merkel & Cocke, P.A. in 1982. Since that time the emphasis of Mr. Cocke’s practice has progressed toward medical malpractice. At the present time his practice is exclusively devoted to handling medical negligence cases for the plaintiff, either as a result of direct contact by the client or on referral from other attorneys who are not familiar with the handling of medical negligence cases. Mr. Cocke was selected Best Lawyer of the year for 2012 and 2014 in The Memphis area in the field of Medical Malpractice and has been selected a Best Lawyer and Super Lawyer every year since 2006. Learn more about John Hartwell Cocke here.