As a local tow truck driver recovers in hospital after having both his legs broken, his boss is urging the public to slow down when they see someone parked on the side of a highway.
Dustin Wardstrom, a driver for Aggressive Auto Towing, had just finished loading a vehicle on the westbound shoulder of Highway 1 near Whatcom Road late Saturday morning when he was struck by a passing vehicle.
The crash broke both his legs, and Wardstrom was airlifted to Royal Columbian Hospital. He also has some bruising, but is otherwise recovering, said Aggressive Auto Towing owner Jason Davis.
While the specifics of the accident are still under investigation, Davis said passing motorists are a constant danger both for working tow truck drivers and other motorists stranded on the side of the highway.
Wardstrom was 10 seconds from being back in the cab of his truck. Now he’s facing eight months to recover, Davis said.
“Part of the motoring public is just numb to orange lights,” said Davis, who urged motorists to “just move over and slow down.”
But while others have advocated for tow trucks to be equipped with red lights similar to those used by emergency vehicles, Davis worries that the motoring public would ignore them once they realized they weren’t police cars.
That is despite the fact that the province’s Slow Down Move Over law – which requires drivers to slow down and, when safe, move over on the road when they see flashing lights – gives equal protection to both tow trucks and emergency vehicles.
According to WorksafeBC, the serious injury rate fell by more than half between 2006 and 2013. However, drivers are still getting hurt and killed each year, according to the agency. Between 2006 and 2015, 14 roadside workers were killed and another 226 injured enough to miss work after being hit by vehicles.
The public and the extended tow truck community has rallied to help Wardstrom, and at their request, a Gofundme account has been set up to help him as he recovers from his injuries. It can be found at gofundme.com/2nca27g