MONTAGUE, Mich. — For first responders, highway maintenance crews, and tow truck drivers the most dangerous job can often be working along the shoulder of a busy highway.
Even though drivers are taught to slow down and move over when they see flashing lights on the shoulder of the road ahead, many don't.
Michigan's Move Over Law requires drivers to slow down to at least 10 mph below the posted speed limit and move over if possible. The law applies to stationary emergency vehicles, tow trucks, road maintenance, and utility vehicles with flashing lights activated.
"One tower is killed every seven days, and we actually had two towers killed at the same scene October 25th in Montana," said Eagle Towing Operations Manager Andrew Heykoop.
It's part of the reason Heykoop added cameras to his trucks, and this year new technology that alerts drivers when one of his crews is working along the shoulder of a road.
"Emergency vehicles being struck is a year round thing," said Heykoop.
The HAAS Alert system, now on all 51 Eagle Towing wreckers, is a device that gives drivers a 20 to 30-second notice when they're approaching a disabled vehicle being assisted by Eagle Towing.
The HAAS Alert system activates when flashing lights on Eagle Towing trucks turn on.
"It's going to give you an alert, for us it's going to say disabled vehicle tow ahead and then slow down," Heykoop said.
The warning is sent to drivers using the navigation app Waze. It's the same alert system fire departments across the country are using to prevent crashes involving fire trucks rushing to an emergency scene.
The alert is only sent to drivers approaching an emergency vehicle and within a half-mile of the location.
The HAAS systems also works with the navigation systems on some new Ford models and select Land Rover vehicles too.
"You don't even have to be in navigation mode, if you just have the Waze app running it's going to give you an audible and visual alert that says emergency vehicle ahead or disabled vehicle tow truck on scene," Heykoop said.
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