Dramatic crash video shows technician acted to save himself from severe injury or death
BELLEVUE, Wash. — A frightening collision with a tow truck operator responding to a AAA member’s call for help prompts an urgent reminder for drivers to Slow Down and Move Over when you see lights flashing on the side of the road. Washington state law requires drivers to slow down to at least 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit and if safe to do so, move over one lane.
The crash, recorded on two video cameras mounted inside a Garza’s Auto Repair tow truck, happened the night of December 17 on southbound I5 near Kelso, Wash. If not for his quick-thinking and evasive actions, the injuries suffered by technician Chris Amedio could have been fatal, when a semi-truck and car failed to slow down or move over one lane.
“I knew that my only hope was to try get out of the way,” said Amedio. “I jumped to try to get on top of her car or my truck. I didn’t care which one. I just needed to keep my vital organs out of the way. I figured I could live with smashed legs.”
During four years in the towing industry, Amedio figures he has survived approximately 50 close calls with drivers who fail to adjust their speeds or move over one lane when passing his stopped truck, who often fly by him with their eyes focused on an electronic device or something else instead of the road.
“They’re not aware of their surroundings,” said Amedio. “They’re too busy texting or playing with the radio or looking around. When you’re on the highway, you need to pay attention to what’s in front of you and what’s on the side of you.”
Analysis by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), showed tow truck operators work in one of the most dangerous careers in the U.S. — 15 times deadlier than all other private industries combined. An average of 24 first responders, including tow operators, die annually while walking along our roadways, that’s one person every other week.
With tow operators putting their lives on the line every day to rescue its stranded members, AAA strongly advocated for the “Move Over” laws enacted in all 50 states. Both the Washington and Idaho statutes include police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks and road construction trucks. When people drive up on these vehicles stopped on the roadway with lights flashing, they must slow down — to at least 10 mph below the posted speed limit in Washington. Then if it is safe to do so, drivers need to move over one lane to create a buffer lane between themselves and roadside crews.
Drivers who violate Washington’s Move Over law get a $214 ticket, which can’t be waived or reduced; a $90 ticket in Idaho. From 2018 through 2020, the Washington State Patrol handed out 1,870 Move Over citations and written warnings, and another 9,832 verbal warnings.
Rather than focusing on citations and penalties, AAA wants drivers to stop and think about the men and women working along our roadways and the families waiting for them to come home safely at the end of every shift. Please protect them by choosing to Slow Down. Move Over.