A Florence widow doesn’t operate a tow truck herself, but she’s driving hard for new legislation in South Carolina to make the roads safer for tow truck operators and first responders.
This is personal for Kady Coffey, she lost her husband while he was responding to a wreck on the Great Pee Dee River Bridge on I-95 back in 2012. James Coffey was a tow truck driver.
“My son lost his father,” Coffey said. “A law that was supposed to protect him failed him.”
Coffey isn’t alone, Nick Stiebel, who drives for DeFalco’s Towing, also has concerns about safety as he does his job.
“Anytime you’re working on the side of the road is dangerous.” Stiebel said. “Every day in a tow truck is different. Every day in a tow truck is different.”
Stiebel faces danger every day he goes to work. He’s also a firefighter.
“Just a few weeks ago one of our firemen got hit on the side of the road while working on the scene of a wreck,” said Stiebel. “Broke her leg. Luckily that’s all that happened. She saw it coming and jumped out of the way as it happened.”
In 2002, the “Move Over Law” was established in South Carolina. Among other things, it says to move over when you’re driving and you come upon an emergency scene. For Kady, this 17-year-old law needs an upgrade.
“He was on I-95 and someone failed to move over and hit him and killed him,” said Coffey.
According to the International Towing Museum, a tow truck operator is hit and killed every six days in the world, and 80 percent of the deaths happen in the U.S. Despite the work being done, numbers are rising. ITM says so far this year five tow truck operators were killed in the first 27 days.
Kady is working with SC Representative Jay Jordan (R- Florence) to take the “Move Over Law” just a few steps further.
“This is a piece of legislation we’ve talked a lot over the last couple of years in South Carolina about making our roads safer,” said Jordan. “A lot of that is improving the conditions of our roads, but this is another side of that coin.”
1. Make April of each year “Move Over Awareness Month” in South Carolina.
2. Have the Department of Transportation and Department of Public Safety host a variety of programs across the state that emphasize the importance of moving over when able.
3. Provide the opportunity for tow truck drivers to take traffic incident management training free of charge.
4. Force the Department of Motor Vehicles to print information in its driver’s manuals relating to the “Move Over Law”.
“If people start taking that one second, one second to turn your blinker on and get over,” said Coffey. “Would you prefer one second moving over, or a lifetime of uneasiness and regret?”
The additions to the “Move Over Law” Kady and Rep. Jordan introduced were pre-filed for this legislative session. On January 8 the bill was referred to the Committee on Education and Public Works.