REECE CITY, Ala. (WIAT) — First responders are reminding drivers about to slow down or move over for emergency vehicles with more travelers expected over the holiday period.
Despite an Alabama law, roadside workers say it is often ignored by drivers.
“It is getting worse as far as what we see out there, as far as driver’s not paying attention for whatever reason,” said Chief Joel Boggs with the Reece City Volunteer Fire Department in Etowah County.
Reece City crews were spared earlier this month after their fire truck was hit on the scene of separate accident.
While firefighters were unharmed, a passenger in the other vehicle was killed in the collision.
“He began shouting on the interstate, ‘The fire truck has been hit, the fire truck has been hit,’ And I turned and looked and all I saw was the SUV barrel rolling down the interstate and debris flying and dust flying and everything,” said Boggs.
In the past few years, CBS 42 has reported on several crashes that have injured or killed first responders or emergency workers.
Boggs said he believes some drivers do not think about the safety of others.
“It is a ‘me’ society. As long as it is not bothering me, as long as I am not the one hurt, it don’t matter, and we have got to get away from that. We’ve got to get back to caring for each other again,” Boggs said.
Firefighter Johnny Cook remembers the deadly crash earlier this month.
“You never know from one second to the next how quick things can come to an end, how quick life can come to an end,” said Cook.
Cook shared frustration that some drivers seem to ignored emergency lights and warnings from law enforcement.
“It is unnerving because you don’t know what is going through these drivers heads,” said Cook.
Chief Boggs said he constantly reminds his team not to turn their back to traffic. He’s encouraging other drivers to do their part so crews can go home to their families.
“It is very easy to get complacent, ‘Oh ok we’ve got another wreck on the interstate, let’s go out here and do what we do and then come back home.’ Thank God we did all come back home because it could have been a very different outcome for this fire department,” said Boggs.
In 2017, tow truck driver John Hubbard was killed while changing a tire in Tuscaloosa County.
His death sparked an annual “Slow Down, Move Over” rally that has been held every year in memory of fallen workers.
This year’s event is set for December 6th.
See more information in the flyer below.