Spirit Ride comes through Myrtle Beach to honor those killed in line of duty

Spirit Ride comes through Myrtle Beach to honor those killed in line of duty (Photo: WPDE)

The reality for many families of tow truck drivers who work on highways every day is that sometimes they say goodbye to their loved ones not knowing if they'll see them again.

According to a news release from American Towman Spirit, being a tow truck operator is now considered one of the most dangerous jobs in America.

The Spirit Ride, in its second year, is hoping to change that.

As a year-long coast to coast campaign to raise public awareness of the laws, the Spirit Ride will honor those killed in roadside accidents.

In 2014 alone, 33 tow truck operators were killed while trying to rescue stranded drivers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. Those numbers continue to increase annually. In fact, the numbers show a tow truck driver dies on average every six days.

Slow Down, Move Over laws are in effect in all fifty states. They require passing vehicles to move over one lane or slow down when approaching an incident where tow operators, police, fire fighters and EMS people are working. Sadly, 71% of Americans have not heard of “Move Over” laws, according to a poll by the National Safety Commission.

The Spirit Ride kicked off its nationwide tour April 11th in Winston Salem, North Carolina, the home of one of its key sponsors, Sure Shot Towing. More than 10,000 tow trucks are participating in the Ride that winds its way throughout the nation over the next several months.

The procession of tow trucks and emergency vehicles relays the ceremonial casket, "Spirit", which was custom painted by artist Cecil Burrowes. The eight-foot long casket is painted with numerous scenarios of first responders at the scene of highway incidents, symbolizing those who've lost their lives in roadside accidents.

According to American Towman Magazine President Steve Calitri, "The Ride is generating public awareness of the perils first responders face and galvanizing police resolve for enforcing the law.

The Spirit Ride was founded by American Towman Magazine and B/A Products and is a project of American Towman Spirit, Inc., a nonprofit corporation, born to promote highway safety.

The release says scores of sponsors have pitched in with funds to support the coordination of the Ride and its media outreach campaign. All the towing companies participating are contributing their services.

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