Lawton_When you are driving and you see the flashing lights of a police car or an ambulance ahead of on the right, you should move to the left lane. It isn't only a courtesy, it's the law in Oklahoma. This year, Oklahoma lawmakers added wreckers to the list of emergency vehicles in the original signed two years ago. As of November 1, if a tow truck is stopped with its lights on, and a driver doesn't move over, he or she may see a hefty fine.
7News set up a camera on the side of I-44 heading northbound out of Lawton to see if drivers were obeying the new law. The 7News car was parked behind the wrecker as though our crew was in need of help. While some drivers moved over as they should, a lot did not. Drivers could see the wrecker's lights for more than a quarter of a mile back, but some drivers just did not pay attention and make the move.
A wrecker owner for 20 years, Glen Alford communicates with other operators on an internet message board, and each day, there's always bad news. "We're standing alongside the road, 90% of the time, right with the troopers and the other police officers, he said. "It is a scary thought to be working on one, look up, and see something coming at you at 70-miles-an-hour."
He says that not a day goes by when he doesn't hear news of a wrecker operator being killed. "There's always another posting that a wrecker operator was killed somewhere in the United States," he said. "In fact, this morning I opened the mail, and there were three killed in the last 24 hours in the United States."
State troopers say that wreckers deserve to be included in the law, too. "They're on the shoulder of the road, and the vehicle may be disabled and not be able to be moved any further off the road," said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper John Hoover. "They're working close to the side of the road, and so it's important for those guys and their safety that you slow down and move over."
However, drivers still continue to cruise past troopers with their lights on even after it being a law for two years. 7News was filming with a trooper on I-44, and a driver immediately passed just feet from the 7News car. The troopers pulled him over, and the driver told them that he wasn't aware of the law. "It could be a lifesaver if you move over, deadly if you don't," said Hoover. "The consequences of hitting someone like that, can kill them. You would probably be charged with vehicle homicide."Troopers gave the driver a warning, and a ticket for failing to move over for any emergency vehicle carrying a fine of $206.50. As of November 1, every state in the country now requires drivers to slow down and move over for wreckers and other emergency vehicles.
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