South Dakota tow trucks could get new lights in wake of driver's death

Published: Feb. 21, 2020 at 6:57 PM CST
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A bill in Pierre is trying to make it easier to see emergency vehicles.

If passed, the bill would equip tow trucks with additional lights.

This legislation comes in the wake of the tragic death of Dale Jones, he was a tow truck driver in Watertown who was killed on the job last month.

Now, under House Bill 1170 any motor vehicle authorized by the Department of Transportation would be equipped with blue lights to make them more visible.

That would include, tow trucks.

Dale Jones worked for Performance Towing and Recovery in Watertown; whose trucks are equipped with lights from front to back.

Performance Owner Andy Wicks said, “We have them visible at many different positions on the truck, side illumination, light bar on top, we have some on the front, some towards the rear.”

Right now, all the lights on the truck are amber, but if House Bill 1170 becomes a law they’re hoping that blue lights bring more attention to tow trucks.

HB 1170 Sponsor, Rep. Tim Rounds said, “The blue light is much more visible than the amber lights. People have become desensitized to the yellow amber flashing lights.”

Wicks added, “The blue light addition would be beneficial during certain times for sure, it’s a little more visible to the average person’s eye.”

Tim Rounds is a sponsor of HB 1170 and says it’s a part of a “three-legged stool” of legislative moves to make it safer for those who work on roads. The other two parts, are Senate Bill 164 that would enforce drivers to move over at least 300 feet before a stopped vehicle. Lastly, congress voted to make June “Move Over Awareness Month.”

"I’m afraid this is going to happen again, there's been too many close calls out there. I think that an additional warning system, such as the blue light, might help save somebody else down the road,” said Rounds.

HB 1170 was passed by the House on Thursday by a vote of 69-0.