Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Report for Massachusetts: Two Tow Truck Drivers Killed When Struck in a Highway Breakdown LaneAbstract:
On February 20, 2004, two male tow truck operators (the victims), ages 23 and 24, were fatally injured when a passing car struck them as they stood in the breakdown lane of a major interstate highway. Victim #1, the 23-year-old, was returning to the company office after towing a car with a conventional tow truck to a drop off location a few towns away. Victim #1 pulled into the breakdown lane when he noticed the tow truck’s alternator light was on and radioed the company office for help. Victim #2, responding to the call for help, drove a flatbed tow truck to the incident location. Both victims were standing on the left side of the trucks parked in the breakdown lane when a passing motorist crossed into the breakdown lane striking both victims and both trucks. A call was placed for emergency medical services (EMS) by passing motorists and EMS responded to the scene within minutes. Victim #1 was pronounced dead at the scene and victim #2 was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Massachusetts Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program concluded that to prevent similar occurrences in the future, employers should:
– Ensure that employees use the tow equipment control levers located on the side of the tow truck farthest from approaching traffic;
– Ensure that employees use portable emergency warning devices to help alert approaching motorists of the stopped emergency vehicles ahead;
– Supply and ensure that employees wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including high visibility vests when working along highways and streets;
– Develop, implement, and enforce standard operating procedures (SOP) for responding to highway and street incidents that include minimizing time spent on the side of the vehicle that is closest to approaching traffic; and
– Develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive safety program that includes training on hazard recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions.
In addition, policymakers should consider the feasibility of enacting a “mover law”.