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"Everything we do is dangerous;" truck drivers explain why 'move over law' is important

On Dec. 17, 2016 Bee Line Towing driver Jeremy Okes was hit by a driver who lost control on route 29.

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- When tow truckers gear up and get ready to help a driver they know there is a risk.

“Every day when we go out on the road to pick someone up, we constantly have to watch our backs,” Truck driver with Bee Line Tower, Paul Davis, said.

Tow truck driver Paul Davis says they have to be defensive because people don’t always follow the law.

“We wear reflective gear so people can see us on the side of the road,” Davis said. "Everything we do is dangerous because of other people."

Under Virginia state law, you have to move over for any vehicles displaying flashing blue, red, or amber lights. These can include tow truck drivers, police officers, emergency vehicles and construction vehicles. The number of people who have violated that law has skyrocketed recently. The DMV reports about 973 convictions in 2010, in 2016 there were a whopping 2,359. However, the number of police officers hit by vehicles recently has gone from 13 in 2014 to 5 in 2016.

“They understand if they don't move over for a police officer they could get a ticket, whereas the expectation just isn't there with tow truck operators,” Virginia State Police Trooper Jared Staton said.

That makes being a tow truck driver particularly dangerous.

“It was devastating just hearing one of our guys got hit,” Davis said. “It was scary that he may or may not have been able to go home to his family or friends.”

Bee Line Towing worker Jeremy Okes was hit a little over a year ago on business 29 when a driver hit ice and lost control.

“I didn’t break anything fortunately, but I did tear muscles in my chest, I had a swollen knee and I still have scares on my chest from where the guardrail got me,” Okes said.

Since then Jeremy has been mostly office-bound. When he was recently going through surveillance video it hit a vulnerable part of him.

“There are four cars in a row right there,” Okes said as he watched video of vehicles not moving over.

Bee Line Towing installed cameras on their vehicles about a year ago. Video taken on Jan. 2nd by route 460 Candlers Mountain Road showed in a little over two minutes 20 vehicles that passed in and didn’t move over.

“I just don’t want anything like that to happen to one of these guys here, they have been here for a while, some are new and we have two females that tow for us as well,” Okes said.

But it’s not just themselves they worry about, it’s all those who care about them too.

“I have family and friends I want to go home to, I want to be safe out there I constantly have to watch my back to make sure I come home to them every night,” Davis said.

It's a reality these workers face every day as they help others on the road.

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