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Driver who didn’t move over for tow truck on I-35 nearly cost a man his life

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- An Independence tow truck driver is thankful to be alive after a car slammed into his truck while he was helping a stranded driver.

The tow company says the car's driver tried to sneak past emergency crews, which is a deadly mistake they see way too often.

On any given cold winter day, Danny Williams is out helping the driver of a broken down car.

“I enjoy helping people," he said. "I like getting them when they’re happy you show up."

But every single day, the job he loves is also downright dangerous.

“I go home many a night and hug my kids really tight because of it," Williams said. "I’ve had to jump on my truck bed so people don’t hit me. My kids have a two-way radio at home. They radio me almost every night and tell me they hope I come home."

FOX4 followed Hook N Book out on a call along Interstate 70. Less than five minutes after crews showed up to help a stranded driver, FOX4 counted at least 50 vehicles breaking the law, not moving over or slowing down.

“They’re honking at us. They’re flipping us off. They just have no respect for the fact of what we’re trying to do,” Williams said.

Both Missouri and Kansas have “move over” laws, forcing you to get over a lane if it’s safe and slow down when emergency crews with flashing lights are on the side of the road. Missouri’s law was expanded recently to include utility workers.

“Every second you’re out there could be your life, and it’s getting worse,” Williams said.

A crash on Tuesday night was further proof many drivers aren’t following the law.

“You had four vehicles with emergency lights on, and nobody was getting over still,” Williams said.

Tuesday night on northbound Interstate 435 between 23rd Street and Truman Road, a car stalled out near the cable barriers in the left lane. MoDOT, police and tow trucks were blocking the area.

But one driver tried to sneak around one of the tow trucks. Instead of inching past, he slammed into its steel bed, sheering off the roof of his car. It’s nothing short of a miracle the driver had just minor injuries.

“No matter what, it’s always going to be a dangerous job," Williams said. "But we can make it less dangerous if we just pay attention."

The tow operator sees drivers fail to follow the move over law way too often, and he just hopes the crash this week is a wake up call to everyone on the road.

“Just slow down and watch what you’re doing because I tell you, I don’t want to see no one die,” Williams said.

Kansas City Police are investigating the crash and have not said whether the driver involved faces any citations or charges.

Penalties for violating the move over law can easily be a $250 ticket or more. But first-responders said they're more concerned about the risk to people's lives and just hope everyone will slow down and get out of the way.