TAMPA, Fla. — Drivers who refuse to slow down and move over when a vehicle is stopped on the side of the road have become all too common in Florida.
Images provided by law enforcement agencies capture the shocking consequences when drivers ignore the state's more than 20-year-old law.
A 2022 video released by the Florida Highway Patrol shows a Lexus SUV plowing through a half dozen traffic cones. It barely misses a mother and her young children standing next to their disabled vehicle before the Lexus ultimately collided with the tow truck flatbed parked on the side of the Turnpike.
Around the country, violators of state move-over laws are a problem that kills nearly 350 people nationwide each year, according to AAA, with Florida ranking among the top three deadliest states, according to the auto group.
"There's no protection right now or no law that requires drivers to move over for you," explained Mark Jenkins, spokesperson for the AAA Auto Club.
As a result, the group is pushing state lawmakers to expand Florida's Move Over law to include not just police, first responders, construction and tow truck operators but all disabled vehicles stopped on the side of the road.
"Unfortunately, so many people die on the roadside every single year. So, anything that we can do to bring attention to this issue is extremely valuable and could save lives," Jenkins said.
But entrepreneur David Tucker believes expanding the law is only one step to reducing the number of injuries and deaths from move-over crashes.
"Something needs to be done because there's fatalities every day like clockwork," he recently told Investigative Reporter Katie LaGrone.
For the past two years, Tucker and his team have been tracking published reports of move-over crashes around the country, focusing on deadly incidents involving passenger or commercial vehicles.
"Just from what's published, we're seeing 55 to 60 a month," Tucker said. "So it's twenty- times bigger of a problem," Tucker said, compared to deaths involving emergency responders and tow truck operators already covered under the state's law.
Tucker, who spent his career solving safety problems in the oil and gas industry, became interested in roadside safety after his close call.
At the time, Tucker was retired and traveling the country in his motor home when every time he stopped to check his load, he faced the same glaring threat.
"It took a couple times to pull over in this big motor home package and put on the hazard lights to realize people didn't see me. They weren't doing it on purpose; they just didn't see me in time," he said.
Then one day, he got a flat tire.
"An 18-wheeler came by and it took off the side view mirror. It came within inches of killing me, and I dove out of the way. I was like, this is bad," he recalled.
Tucker said the near-miss forced him out of retirement and into what has become a personal mission.
"What happens if one of my kids had this accident and I thought, well, I could have done something," Tucker said.
So the career-long start-up guy started Emergency Safety Solutions (ESS), a company aimed at eliminating roadside crashes with existing technology; his company is just upgrading.
| Emergency Safety Solutions: Hazard Enhanced Location Protocol (H.E.L.P.) 3D Animation