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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Kentucky: Training, Regulations Needed to Increase Safety for Tow Truck Operators as First Responders

A new study from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health focuses on the safety of tow truck operators as first responders to accident scenes.

Noting that national fatality rates for commercial tow truck operators exceed those of other first responders who also perform traffic incident management services, investigators Mr. Mark Chandler and Dr. Terry Bunn set out to (1) characterize causal factors associated with injuries among commercial tow truck operators engaged in roadside assistance through analysis of coded and free text data obtained from U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation files, and (2) utilize supplemental data sources to analyze environmental factors for injuries in which commercial tow truck operators were struck by roadway traffic.

Their paper “Motor vehicle towing: An analysis of injuries in a high-risk yet understudied industry”, published in the Journal of Safety Research, recommends that the towing industry should provide initial and refresher safety training on vehicle loading and unloading, defensive techniques when exposed to traffic on roadways, and proper wheel chocking and braking procedures. States should include tow trucks as a first responder vehicle type in their “Move Over” laws and implement public awareness campaigns to protect all first responders, including tow truck operators.

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