When we think about dangerous jobs, you might think of our first responders like police officers or firefighters.
But there’s one group that sometimes gets forgotten about, tow truck drivers.
The men and women who drive those big machines are first responders as well. And their job is one of the most dangerous in the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety administration injury and fatality rates among emergency responders are more than twice the national average for all industries.
It takes a special kind of personality to handle tons of wreckage in the road, cars racing pass you as 70 miles an hour and intense human emotion. These drivers are on call 24/7 and work dangerous accident scenes every day.
It’s a proud tradition a lot of people don’t know about. There’s the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Along with cool trucks there’s also a somber reminder of just how dangerous this job is.
The Wall of the Fallen now has over 400 names of men and women who have lost their lives serving the towing and road service industry. A driver is killed in the field every six days.
Drivers we spoke with told us that the biggest problem is people not slowing down, or “rubber necking” at accidents and not paying attention to the road.
One of the most intense scenes an operator can roll up on is when you’ve got something like what happened October 3rd in Tyler, when a truck carrying logs overturned on Loop 323. That’s when it’s time for what’s known in the industry as recovery. The big 50 ton trucks with the rotator on top can cost about half a million dollars. And those big boys get about 4 miles to the gallon.
Recovery services like Crow and Isaacs work a rotating on call system with Tyler police and the Department of Public Safety. And when the call comes out it doesn’t matter how big it is or what time it is, these are the guys who come clean up the mess.
If you want to learn more about tow truck drivers, head to http://internationaltowingmuseum.org/