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Montana tow truck drivers face danger every day

Montana law requires that drivers move over a lane when emergency vehicles are at the side of the road. The law protects not only police officers and rescue personnel, but tow truck drivers who arrive at an accident scene to remove disabled vehicles and get traffic flowing again.

Unfortunately, many Montana drivers do not obey the move-over law. One Billings tow truck driver, interviewed for a news story, says the cones and warning lights don't provide much protection. He says it's a pretty scary experience when a driver hits one of the cones and sends it flying.

Another tow truck operator says drivers typically move over for police vehicles, but not for tow trucks. He says he sees the change in driver behavior as soon as law enforcement vehicles drive away from the scene. A spokesperson for the Montana State Patrol says the move-over law is tough to enforce, because it requires two officers at the scene, one to work the accident and another to warn drivers to move over.

Tow truck drivers are killed on the job an average of once a week in the U.S. There is even a memorial in Chattanooga, Tennessee where the names of those who have died are inscribed.

Drivers who are injured on the job are entitled to recover workers' compensation benefits under Montana law. Workers' compensation will cover medical expenses, lost wages and temporary and permanent disability payments. When a driver is killed, surviving family members are entitled to death benefits. If a driver is injured or killed by a negligent driver, they or their family members also have the right to sue that driver and recover damages over and above what is paid by workers' compensation.

Source: KXLF.com, "Tow truck drivers risk their own safety on Montana's roads," Dustin Klemann, Nov. 17, 2014

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