Weather, cell phones cause the biggest concern for tow truck drivers responding to wrecks

By: Marcus Aarsvold

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Amid snowfall and slide offs, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation says winter time is the most dangerous time of the year for tow truck drivers trying to clear off busy streets.

A vehicle crashed into a tow truck removing a car off of the road at Aberg and Packers Ave on Tuesday.

Liberty Towing Service, LLC Owner Rod Timmerman said no one was injured, but that they’ve seen multiple drivers talking or texting on cell phones and then almost hitting their trucks.

“It takes seconds for an accident to occur,” Timmerman said. “I don’t know how to get it across. I wish I did. I wish that we could send an alert out to all phones during the dangerous weather kind of like an amber alert that says, ‘Hey! Cautious! Emergency workers are out there. Stay off of your phones!’’'

Recent 2021 Wisconsin legislation doubles fees for people caught using their phones while driving through an emergency response scene.

“With the enactment of Wisconsin 115, we owe it to the leadership of the Amherst Fire Department to thank them for bringing us together and for calling for action in the first place,” Democratic Stevens Point Representative Katrina Shankland said at the Wisconsin State Assembly “Hometown Heroes” ceremony on Tuesday.

The Amherst Fire Department Chief Victor Voss saw distracted drivers while responding to emergencies.

He and Assistant Fire Chief Brian Swan decided to work with Rep. Shankland to push for stricter state laws.

“I can’t tell you how many times that I was videotaped out there on accident scenes,” Swan said. “Somebody is driving and out of their car they’ve got their phone up videotaping driving by. It’s just ludicrous.”

The two firefighters, Rep. Shankland and Timmerman said they hope people put their phones down, slow down when approaching a crash scene and driver in the lane furthest form first responders and tow trucks.

Timmerman said a vehicle crashed into one of their tow trucks in December and the damage costed the company $30,000.