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Tow Truck Operators Face Danger While on Duty

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Freezing temperatures and snow have created tough conditions for drivers and tow truck operators. In the last month, Affordable Towing experienced three crashes in the past 30 days, all of which were caused by other drivers. Many tow truck operators, like those of Affordable Towing, try to take safety precautions, but the dangers of towing is real and unpredictable.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Tuesday morning was a close call for tow truck operator Trent McNeal.

"A vehicle coming eastbound lost control and actually slammed into the side of the tow truck," said McNeal.

The accident happened along the James River Freeway when McNeal was on a job. 

"It was a split second and you turn around and look, and you're like 'oh my god,'" he said. "It was like you couldn't really do anything."

Everyone walked away from the collision with no major injuries, with damage done only to parts of the car.

"It knocked the front of the alignment, it tore up the tool box, it shoved the record bed over an inch to the left," he said, adding the damage makes it difficult for him to operate his truck.

The penalty of hitting a tow truck in the middle of a job is much more severe than that of a hitting a normal motor vehicle.

According to state law, a towing vehicle with lights on performing an emergency service must be treated by the public as an emergency vehicle.

"They could get a Class A misdemeanor charge," said Lisa Cox, Public Affairs Officer at the Springfield Police Department. "A Class A can be anywhere from a $1 to $1000, and a day to as much as a year in jail. It just depends on the situation."

Junior Johnson is also a tow operator at Affordable Towing. Johnson says in his 25-year career, he's had 50 close encounters and even lost a close friend who was killed by another driver while on a towing job.

"There's nothing more precious than you taking someone's life," Johnson said. "I've buried my friend. It was probably the saddest day of my life."

Both McNeal and Johnson ask for people to consider their safety and that of the public when they're out on a job.

"It's common courtesy," Johnson said. "Slow down and move over."

"That's all we can ask, McNeal said. "We're here to help everybody else out. "

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