NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. —
Thousands of us drive past it every day. Rogelio Perez-Borroto's memorial on Interstate 275 north is a reminder to move over and slow down.
“He was off helping somebody who broke down on the bridge. On his way home from work, he lost his life,” fellow tow truck driver Mike McDonald said.
McDonald says sadly Rogelio isn't the only one. Tow truck drivers risk their lives daily.
“Last year there was 56 operators that died in 2019. That's every six days an operator loses their life helping somebody to make sure they get home,” McDonald said.
That's why FDOT enforces the Move Over Law. January is the “Move Over Month.” Drivers have to move over if they see flashing lights on the side of the road.
“I mean if you can't move over, they say you're supposed to slow down at least 20 miles under the posted speed limit,” McDonald said.
Every time McDonald goes out for a call, he knows he could possibly lose his life. We waited with him and after just a few minutes in, not one car moved over and none slowed down.
“I would say 90-percent of them don't. A lot of them don't. They’re just not paying attention and wanting to get home thinking that it's not a big deal, but it actually is,” McDonald said.
Statistics by the CDC show it's one of the most deadly jobs in the country with 191 tow truck drivers nationwide being killed in the span of five years.
“We've been calculating, so far in 2020 five operators have lost their life within the past 10 days. I mean within the first four hours of 2020, two operators lost their lives,” McDonald said.
At the end of the day, McDonald said he just wants drivers to be vigilant so he can go home to his five kids at the end of the night.
“My wife is always concerned if I'm going to come home. She calls me 5-6 times a day just to make sure. It would be heartbreaking because my kids are my world. It would be heartbreaking for them, not knowing they don't have a dad,” McDonald said.
Troopers issued more than 20,000 citations for people who broke the law in 2019. That’s how big the problem is. Again, this can all be avoided if you move over.
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