In the early morning hours of a summer day, a 49-year-old male owner-operator of a towing company died when he was struck by a driver operating a box truck. The towing company had been called to retrieve a sport utility vehicle (SUV) that had broken down in another state and was returning the vehicle to its owner in Kentucky. It was approximately 4:00 a.m. when the towing company owner and his two sons were on an interstate returning with the SUV, when the operator thought the load felt strange. He parked his tow truck on the right hand shoulder and was standing on the driver’s side at the rear of the trailer checking the load’s securement, when a box truck in the right lane, driven by a 24-year-old male, struck him. The tow truck driver’s 18-year-old son called emergency medical services to the scene. They arrived, followed by the coroner who declared the towing operator dead at the scene. The driver of the box truck was arrested and subsequently charged with murder, driving under the influence (.115 BAC), driving without insurance, and in violation of numerous other commercial vehicle regulations.

To prevent future occurrences of similar incidents, the following recommendations have been made:

Recommendation No. 1: Four points of securement should be used when transporting a load.

Recommendation No. 2: Towing operators should receive refresher safety and operational training annually.

Recommendation No. 3: The maximum carrying capacity of the tow truck should not be exceeded.

Recommendation No. 4: Kentucky should create a law requiring the use of portable emergency warning devices when an emergency vehicle is stopped at the side of the road.

Recommendation No. 5: Employers and tow truck operators should ensure the use of warning devices to alert approaching motorists whenever a worker is located outside of the tow truck.

Recommendation No. 6: Appropriate high-visibility vests should be worn by persons working along highways and streets.

Recommendation No. 7: There should be increased public awareness of the “Move Over Law” in Kentucky.

Recommendation No. 8: Tow trucks should be equipped with dual winch controls, one being on each side.

Recommendation No. 9: Tow truck operators should limit the amount of time spent on the side of the road closest to approaching traffic.

Recommendation No. 10: Whenever possible, the tow truck driver should pull over at a ‘safe’ location that allows the truck to be out of the way of approaching traffic.

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A summary of this case is available as the additional file listed below.

12KY035_Summary.pdf (136 kB)
Case Summary