Tow truck driver injured while working on Trans Canada Highway should be call to action, says friend | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Tow truck driver injured while working on Trans Canada Highway should be call to action, says friend

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December 22, 2019 - 10:26 AM

John Brown was on the Trans-Canada Highway, near the Malakwa Market,  getting ready to winch a vehicle that had veered off the road when every tow truck driver's worst fear happened.

From what his friend and old co-worker Mike Horsley has been told of Friday's events, Brown was struck by a pickup, allegedly driving above the speed limit in less than ideal conditions.

Brown’s truck was destroyed and the impact sent the deck of his truck into the cab.

While he was outside the vehicle at the time of the crash he still suffered several broken bones, internal bleeding and possible vertebrae damage.

Horsley has been told the pickup that hit Brown’s tow truck was from Alberta and was a couple with two children were inside. The driver was injured in the impact.

“Luckily the RCMP were already there, or any further delay on an ambulance, could have resulted in a worse outcome,” Horsley said.

Brown still has a long recovery ahead of him.

“Those who know John, know that he is a force of nature, that will keep ticking when any normal person would just roll over and expire.”

Horsley is hoping his friend will make a full recovery but thinks that this recent incident should be a call to action — it is another reason for meaningful enforcement to the current Slow Down, Move Over laws.

The laws have been around since 2009 and are supposed to get motorists to slow their speed 70km/h when in an 80km/h or over zone and 40km/h when in an under 80km/h zone. If travelling on a multi-lane road, drivers are supposed to move into another lane to pass when passing stopped vehicles with a flashing light, where safe to do so.

This would give roadside workers and emergency personnel with greater protection from accidents and injuries.

While the rules are all well and good, Horsley said they’re almost entirely unenforced.

“It’s terribly dangerous doing what we do, exponentially more so than being a police officer,” he said. “It is getting worse, not better. I've had two close friends hit in two years now, towing.”

While Canadian statistics on the issue were unavailable, the US’s Bureau of Labor Statistics,  found that 191 motor vehicle towing workers were killed between 2011 and 2016, resulting in an annual rate of 42.9 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. For all other industries, that rate was 2.9 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

Additionally, the annual nonfatal injury rate among motor vehicle towing workers during that same period was 204.2 per 10,000 FTEs – more than double the rate of 98.2 for all industries.

“The statistics are staggering,” said Horsley, adding that it’s frustrating that there’s no protection in place.

“(John) was doing everything right. His lights were all on. He was on a straight stretch and he was positioned appropriately,” he said.

“I hope this can bring some iota of awareness to the SDMO laws and maybe pressure the police to actually begin enforcing this. It's in their best interest, too.”

He’s also hoping that some further safety measures are implemented.

Better lights would be a start. Currently, tow truck drivers are allowed amber lights, but he thinks adding blue lights may actually get people to pay better attention to roadside workers.

Horsley has organized a GoFundMe to help his friend out. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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