Tow truck operators bid to expand state's 'move over' law

When your car is disabled and you're stranded on the side of the road, they are the ones who come to your aid.
 
But when Jamie Mertz answered such a call for a flat tire a few weeks ago, she was reminded of the risks involved in working a precious few feet from passing vehicles.
 
"[I] got out, got information, changed the tire, went back, put my items in the tool box, got in the truck and about 30 seconds later, I got hit," recalled Mertz.
 
The sedan struck the back of the tow truck with such force, it flung Mertz forward in her seat and did an estimated $10,000 worth of damage to the big rig.
 
Meanwhile, the car absorbed the worst of the crash.
 
"He hit hard enough that I was very concerned that he did not make it," Mertz said. "His vehicle was severely damaged.  It's totaled.  It ripped the passenger side wheel completely off and toward the hood.  It blew the airbags."
 
Mertz's employer, Larry Green, represents tow truck operators across the state, and he's thankful that lawmakers in Annapolis are considering legislation, which could force motorists to move over a lane to allow room for his drivers or face a fine of up to $500.
 
"Motorists are in a rush," Green said. "They don't pay attention.  They're either on a cell phone or maybe texting, which they're not supposed to be doing any longer, but people are just in a rush to get where they're going and everything.
 
“So we want to see it to save the lives of our drivers and slow down, move over and abide by the laws."
 
While every state offers some version of the move over law, Maryland is one of only four, which don't extend the same protection offered to police, fire and ambulance workers to those called upon when motorists are stranded with a disabled vehicle.
 
Both the House and Senate have already passed their own respective versions of the bill, and Gov. Martin O'Malley has signaled his support for the measure.
 
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