Tow trucks are emergency vehicles, too

Tow trucks are emergency vehicles, too

by | Oct 22, 2015 |

On the highways, many emergency first responders are lauded for the job they do. Michigan State Police troopers, local police and sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and ambulance personnel are regularly praised as being “heroes.” But the praise often leaves out one other class of emergency personnel, that of tow truck drivers.

Tow truck drivers are often simply ignored. They are not dealing with issues of triage and emergency medical treatment for injured motorists at the scene. They only are there to remove disabled or wrecked vehicles. And while they may not be dealing with matters of life and death in the same manner that a paramedic must, they often pay a similar price, that of their own life.

In Detroit last week, one such deadly accident occurred, when an SUV swerved into a tow truck that was helping a driver with her flat tire. The crash killed both the tow truck driver and the driver of the SUV.

We often fail to consider the danger faced by a tow truck driver, because most of the time, we are driving past them and hardly give them a second glance. It is only when we suffer a breakdown, flat tire or accident that we may gain some appreciation of the risk they face every day. According to one driver, the rate of tow truck drivers’ fatalities is greater than that of police officers.

And we should appreciate they are the ones who are expected to respond in the worst weather conditions to help motorists in distress here in Michigan. They are often working on rain-slicked or snow and ice covered roads, mere feet away from vehicles traveling at highway speeds. A second’s inattention by one of those drivers can lead to catastrophic crashes, injuries and death for the tow truck driver.

Remember, Michigan’s Slow Down and Move Over law applies to tow trucks, so the next time you see flashing lights, even if it is “just” a tow truck, slow down and move out of the lane closest to the tow truck and other vehicles.

Source:, “Tow truck driver, motorist killed in I-696 crash,” Katrease Stafford, Detroit Free Press, October 15, 2015