RALEIGH, N.C. - A tow truck driver on Monday said he's had several close calls from drivers who didn't move over.
- A new law increases the penalty for seriously hurting or killing an emergency worker on the side of the road
- A tow truck driver says he's had close calls from drivers who did not move over
- The law takes effect on Sunday
David Kimball has owned a towing business in Knightdale for the past eight years. He said he once lost a shoe while jumping out of the way of an oncoming car.
“My foot was the last thing to clear the road, and the foot caught the car,” he said.
The Officer Jason Quick Act takes effect on Sunday. It's named for Lumberton police officer Jason Quick, who was killed a year ago by an inattentive driver while he was responding to a crash on I-95. Under current law, if you seriously hurt or kill an emergency worker or public service worker—a category that includes tow truck drivers and utility workers—on the side of the highway, you could face three to 12 months of penalties, in some combination of jail, probation and community service. The new law increases the penalty to anywhere from 10 to 41 months in prison, depending on the circumstances and any previous convictions you have.
Kimball said tow truck operators need space to work. He said when he's pulling a car out of the roadway, he's moving all around his truck securing chains. This requires time as well as space to work.
In addition to police, firefighters and tow truck drivers, the law also covers utility workers, garbage collectors and highway maintenance crews. Penalties for violations that don't result in any injuries remain unchanged: a $250 fine if there is no property damage, or up to six months in jail if you damage property or inflict minor to moderate injury by not moving over.
Kimball said if you have a problem on the highway and you need to call a tow truck, move your car as far off the highway as you can, ideally into the grass on the side of the road.