FOREST PARK, Ill. - When your car breaks down along a roadway, tow truck drivers are a welcome sight but now they are increasingly putting their lives on the line to stop and assist you.
The CDC says a tow truck driver is killed every other week in the United States.
AAA says the tow industry is 15 times deadlier than all other private industries combined.
Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA, says their new "Slow Down, Move Over" campaign is meant to get the word out about these avoidable accidents.
He said as more Americans return to the office and hit the road, the message is more important than ever.
"These essential workers are everyday heroes," Jarmusz said of the tow drivers. "We’re asking for everyone to do their part by slowing down and moving over anytime they see a vehicle on the side of the road."
Bruce Pedigo, owner of Joe’s Towing and Recovery of Bloomington, said "Every single day as a tow operator your head really has to be on a swivel. You never know which car is going to be the problem car."
Pedigo recalled an incident in which both of his sons responded to a call of a car in a ditch but a second car left the roadway and crashed into their tow truck, leading to some nervous moments not knowing if his sons were okay.
"My wife won’t go out in the same truck anymore," Pedigo said.
Pedigo said he’s thankful to AAA for partnering with the Illinois Broadcasters Association on a public education campaign to remind people in Illinois about the importance of following Scott’s Law.
The law, named for a Chicago firefighter who lost his life after being struck by a car in 2000, mandates that when you see police, emergency or maintenance vehicles along the roadway you need to proceed with caution, change lanes if possible and reduce your speed.
AAA says 71% of Americans aren’t even aware of these types of laws despite their serious penalties.
A Scott’s Law violation could lead to a fine of up to $10,000 or suspension of your driver’s license for up to two years.