FLINT (WJRT) (1/11/2018) - The death of a tow truck operator in Bridgeport Township late Thursday has area law enforcement reminding motorists of Michigan's move-over law designed to prevent such tragedies.
Thomas Tripp, 41, died when a suspected drunk driver plowed into him while he was loading a disabled car onto his flatbed truck along Dixie Highway near Zelle Drive last Wednesday.
Michigan and all 50 states have enacted move-over laws directing drivers to slow down and provide a full lane buffer between themselves and emergency vehicles whenever possible.
What many people don't understand: The law classifies tow trucks and road maintenance vehicles the same as police cars and fire trucks.
Michigan State Police Trooper Amy Belanger said emergency workers are just doing their jobs alongside the roads and ask motorists to give them proper respect.
"It's a very scary feeling," she said. "It's so unfortunate that a man lost his life yesterday due to that reason."
Belanger said more police officers are killed in roadside collisions every year than any other cause, including gunfire.
"When somebody is driving and they focus on one particular thing, their body will naturally move over toward that object," she said.
Failure to abide by Michigan's move-over law is a misdemeanor. Any motorist who kills someone alongside the road by failing to move over could face up to 15 years in prison.