WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - In 2002, North Carolina adopted the "Move Over Law," which protects law enforcement officers, emergency responders and utility workers, including towing companies, stopped along roadsides.
The law says drivers must pull into the lane furthest away from the authorized vehicle if the roadway has at least two lanes of traffic in one direction. If there is only one lane of traffic, drivers should reduce speed and be prepared to stop.
Thomas Towing and Transport was a victim of a driver not obeying this law this week in Wilmington on Highway 17 North.
"Two years ago I had a guy go past me so fast and his mirror brushed my back. This time was worse, fortunatley our driver was in the cab of the truck but still shaken up. Had he been outside doing anything with the vehicle it could have been a different outcome, " said Tom Toby, owner of Thomas Towing and Transport.
According to the towing company, the tow truck driver was on the scene of an accident loading up a truck when he noticed drivers were not slowing down. A truck slammed into the tow truck. In this case, the tow driver was not seriously injured, as he was in the cab.
The law carries a strict punishment.
Effective July 1, 2006, fines increased to $500 along with the possibility of being charged with a felony if a collision occurs that results in serious injury or death.
According to the NC Highway Patrol, 64 drivers in southeastern North Carolina were cited for violating the law in 2016. A dozen drivers were cited between New Hanover and Brunswick counties; 25 were cited in Pender and Columbus counties; 27 were cited in Bladen County.
Toby says most days cars whiz past him paying him no mind. It's danger everywhere you turn says Toby.
"You could be out on a road by yourself at dark. There is no one to watch over you. That adds a lot of danger to this when you are trying to help a motorist on the side of the road and cars are flying by at highway speed," said Toby.
Toby says its simple - slow down, move over, or come to a complete stop. It may just save a life
"That couple of minutes I may hold you up could mean the difference of a tow operator going home or maybe not," stressed Toby