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Editors Column

Editor’s Column - The New Year Begins

Monday, January 27, 2020

Normally at this time of the year, it would be my task to wish you a Happy New Year for the year 2020.  This I shall do.  However, it is something which I do with a heavy heart.  My friends we have had a horrible start to the beginning of a new decade.  In the first two weeks of the year we have see 7 people killed on the highways of the United States.  I cannot recall such as sad start to any new year in my more than two decades as your editor. 

We were only moments into the new year when the first fatality occurred.  And the deaths have continued to pile up.  No part of our community of responders has been spared.  We have lost police, fire, EMS, and towing personnel.  This all has rocked us back on our heels.  We have trained thousands and thousands of people and yet the deaths have still continued. 

Let me suggest that we step up our efforts to reach our user communities with the proper training, education and knowledge.  But that is only one part of the equation.  Society has created a whole new generation of people for whom distracted driving has, sadly, become a way of life. 

I do not need to review and statistics to prove this to myself.  All I need to do is sit out on my front porch.  While I have been enjoying one of my favorite cigars, it was my sad misfortune to witness a whole parade of distracted drivers passing my house.  I saw folks on cell phones, putting on makeup, reading newspapers, and a whole litany of distracted behavior. 

Do not think that we are ignoring this problem. It is just so difficult to reach these distracted user populations.  Many years ago, Steve Austin and I met with a public relations firm to discuss the creation of a media campaign to reach those folks who were doing the damage to our folks out there on the highways.  Those fine folks told us that they could do this. There was just one problem.  There was no way in hell that our association could afford the thousands and thousands of dollars needed to do this task. 

Lest you think we have given up, we have not.  My dear friend Bob Cumberland has developed a program to deliver our message of highway safety at traffic rest stops in the Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and West Virginia areas. As good as his efforts has been, with the help of many other fine folks, their efforts have barely scratched the surface of the problem. 

I want to let you know that there are people out across our great nation who share our highway safety concerns and are working to do something about it. In Illinois, my friend Gary Ludwig, Chef of the Champaign Fire Department, and President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, has his entire fire department undergoing a highway fire safety training program.  He wants to ensure that his department is as well-trained as it can possibly be for highway operations.

In Indiana a highway towing firm has teamed with a local television station to boost public awareness of the fact that towing vehicle are also covered by the same move-over laws as are police, fire, and EMS vehicles.  Highway construction vehicles are also a part of this law.  The firm of Instate Delaware and South also pointed out that industry figure say that one tow truck driver is struck every six days.  This is a very high figure and the firm is doing what it can to help pout. 

We have a whole new year stretching out on the horizon in front of us.  Let me urge you to do all that you can to see that your people are trained for highway operations.  Do not let your inaction be the cause of a death on the highways and byways of your operational district. Please go to and review the many training resources we have available for you.  Act today. Please.

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