FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 04/01/2011
Rep. Ryan Guillen Passes Legislation to Protect Tow Truck Operators
AUSTIN - Earlier this week, State Representative Ryan Guillen (District 31) passed House Bill 378 in the Texas House of Representatives, which will protect incident management tow truck operators on our state's roadways by adding tow trucks to Texas move-over laws.
The law currently requires motorists on roadways with two or more lanes to vacate the lane in the direction of emergency vehicles in order to increase the safety for assisting stranded motorists. Unfortunately, the law does not include tow trucks. House Bill 378 would provide the same protection for licensed and professional tow operators.
"Every day, professional tow operators are on our roads helping our state by clearing traffic accidents. These individuals are very aware of the dangers related to the nature of their work, and their safety and well-being shouldn't be compromised," said Rep. Guillen. "As of this year, 39 states are protecting tow operators through move-over laws they've enacted. House Bill 378 will make Texas the 40th state."
The Towing and Recovery Association of American estimates that there are over 200 strike-bys annually, leading to over 60 tow operators killed nationally per year. Last year alone, there were 5 tow operators killed in Texas while assisting stranded motorists or law enforcement.
"One of top priorities for tow operators is to protect their customers from harm on public roadways, as well as expeditiously clear the roadways after and during accidents, which cuts down dramatically the numbers of secondary accidents. Unfortunately, the Texas tow operator has had no level of protection and has one of the highest death rates among emergency responders in the nation," said Jess Horton, Executive Director of Southwest Tow Operators, a professional towing and storage association for Texas tow operators. "Bill 378 has addressed that issue, and we can only thank everyone involved for seeing this important problem addressed and bringing the kind of awareness that is warranted."
Jeanette Rash, Government Affairs Chair of the Texas Towing & Storage Association stated that "Tow operators are often the first ones at an accident scene and often the only responder at an incident scene such as a break-down or flat-tire. Towing professionals know too well the dangers of being on the side of the road as traffic roars by. The very nature of the work -- being bent down with backs to the traffic or lying underneath a vehicle to hook-it-up -- makes towers extremely vulnerable at the scene."
During the House committee in March, members of the House Licensing and Administration Committee heard from families of tow operators who have been killed in the line of work. Additionally, the American Automobile Association (AAA) testified in support of the bill.