‘They just don’t slow down’: Tow truck drivers seek revision of ‘move over’ law

View photos‘They just don’t slow down’: Tow truck drivers seek revision of ‘move over’ law

Tow truck driver Brent Dunphy still remembers the day he had to dive for cover under a truck because of an inattentive driver who nearly clipped him on the side of a highway.

“I’ve had a few close calls,” said the 14-year veteran driver. “I haven’t gotten hit yet, but they just don’t slow down, they don’t move over, they don’t give you the courtesy whatsoever.”

Dunphy is one of dozens of tow truck drivers, along with the Canadian Automobile Association, asking New Brunswick to revise a law requiring vehicles to move into the left lane when passing emergency and roadwork vehicles.

‘Move over’ law revision sought

New Brunswick passed the ‘move over’ law in 2013. It requires drivers to slow down and, where possible, move into the left lane when emergency vehicles are pulled off the road with their lights flashing.

Police, ambulance and fire trucks are protected by this the law, but tow trucks are not — despite the drivers being at equal risk.

Driver Tovey Clendenning is still recovering from injuries he sustained four months ago on a dead-end road on the north side of Fredericton when an SUV crashed into his truck, sending him flying eight feet through the air.

“When you are on the side of the road, side of the highway, you are watching all the time, your head’s on a swivel,” he said. “But you let your guard down on a dead-end street and then bang. Can’t let your guard down, I guess.”

Clendenning suffered torn ligaments in his knee and leg, which was pinned between the two vehicles during the crash.

He was talking to a customer and had his back to the approaching SUV, he said.

The driver was blinded by the sun, and hit the front of the tow truck and then the door, behind which Clendenning stood.

“I got lucky.

I could be in a wheelchair … or worse.”

Anyone who violates the provisions of the law will be fined almost £300 and lose three points off of their driver’s licence.

Dunphy said he’s noticed a lot of distracted drivers and people going much faster in recent years.

He hopes changing the law will raise more awareness on roadside safety and remind people to pay more attention.

“If it saves one life, then we’ve won,” he said.

Other provinces already made changes

Gary Howard, spokesperson for CAA Atlantic, said the association has tried for four years to get the government to revise the ‘move over’ law.

Because of the change of government two years ago, the association had to restart its discussion, he said.

“I think we’re making some good progress now, so I expect this is something that we will see this year,” he said.

He added the association is also talking to governments in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia.

“Newfoundland has it as part of their legislation, as well as Ontario, Manitoba and a few other provinces,” he said.

The Department of Justice and Public Safety said in an emailed statement to the CBC that it is aware of the industry’s concerns.

“We are also aware that tow trucks are included in similar laws in provinces like Ontario and Quebec,” said Elaine Bell, department spokesperson.

“We’re examining what is going on in the jurisdictions to see what kind of best practices they are developing as well as challenges they are facing, if any.”

Bell added the department recommends that motorists encountering tow trucks on the side of the road “approach at a slower speed and move to a passing lane if possible and only if safe to do so.”

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