Safety Issues



The Truck Operator

The truck driver was 48 years old and was a married father of four. The decedent had received some high school education but did not obtain a diploma. Outside of his regular towing job, the truck driver was also a volunteer firefighter in the local area. A local acquaintance was quoted as saying that the truck driver often donated his services to people in need without charge.



The Investigation


On Monday evening, September 19, 2016, a tow truck driver (the victim) received a service request call from a passenger car driver who needed his vehicle towed from the westbound shoulder of a nearby controlled-access highway. When the tow truck driver arrived at the scene, it was dark outside, and there were no light poles to provide lighting in the area where the job was to be performed. With the tow truck’s light bar engaged, the victim exited the cab and discussed the job to be performed with the customer. He was not wearing a reflective safety vest. He then loaded the disabled vehicle onto the back of his tow truck. The tow truck driver successfully loaded the stalled car onto the flatbed and began to secure the driver side front and rear of the vehicle on the traffic-facing side of the roll back wrecker. A Dodge Durango approached in the adjacent westbound lane. Not attempting to move to the furthest lane, it veered over the edge line into the shoulder lane, striking the tow truck driver and sideswiping the tow truck before coming to rest several feet in front of the tow truck. Witness statements at the scene indicated there were no other vehicles on the road near the Durango to prevent the driver from moving over, as state law requires. There were no tire marks to suggest that the driver attempted to brake before striking the tow truck driver and the tow truck. Emergency medical services were immediately called for assistance. When initially interviewed by responders, the driver of the Dodge Durango claimed to have had no memory of what caused the collision when it first occurred. Cell phone records indicated that her last message was sent 9 minutes prior to the collision. Emergency Medical Services arrived shortly after being called and took both the tow truck driver and the driver of the Dodge Durango to a nearby hospital. The driver of the Dodge Durango was treated and released after submitting to a blood alcohol and drug test. Toxicology results concluded that the driver had no drugs or alcohol in her system at the time of the fatal crash. The tow truck driver was pronounced dead in the hospital.





Tow truck operators should limit the amount of time spent on the traffic lane facing side of the tow truck.

High-visibility safety apparel, such as safety vests, should be worn at all times while working at roadside.

Tow truck operators should work in conjunction with law enforcement to secure the work area prior to loading and securing a vehicle.

Tow truck operators should utilize portable emergency warning devices such as bidirectional reflective triangles.

There should be increased public awareness of the “Move Over Law” in Kentucky.

Tow truck operators should consider National Traffic Incident Management Responder Training, regardless of company size. (link for full report)

Safety Issues is presented by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in partnership with the National Truckers Association (NTA), with major contributions from State partners funded by NIOSH through the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program.  The goal of the FACE program is to prevent occupational fatalities across the nation by identifying and investigating work situations at high risk for injury and then developing and disseminating prevention strategies to those who can intervene in the workplace. State partners who contribute Safety Issues postings based on recent investigative reports are California, Iowa, Kentucky Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, New Jersey and Washington.

This month’s safety issues is based on an investigative report from Kentucky Face Program.  The complete detailed Kentucky FACE INVESTIGATION REPORT: 16KY052 includes additional case information, recommendations, and discussion.  This report can be found at  Further information on Kentucky FACE Program, including additional Kentucky FACE Investigation Reports, Hazard Alerts, truck driver training and fatality summaries can be accessed at

The Safety Issues and Investigation Reports which are the products of NIOSH Cooperative State partners are presented here in their original unedited form from the states.  They are intended for educational purposes only.  The findings and conclusions in each report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the NIOSH

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