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"The road will kill you": Towing company, Muskogee police promote Move Over Law

Posted at 5:33 PM, Nov 07, 2023

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Almost one year passed since John Mills, a tow truck driver for Red Beard’s Towing, was killed on the side of the road working a job.

In honor of that loss, the legislature passed House Bill 2684, also known as the ‘Move Over Law,’ in April.

The Muskogee Police Department and the tow company partnered up for the second time Tuesday for a traffic engagement.

Red Beard’s Towing owner Mack Parks said that he and his wife feel strongly about spreading the word about the Move Over Law.

“Whatever we have to do to spread awareness, we’ll do,” Parks said. “The road will kill you. My driver had experience and was killed on the side of the road.”

Parks said that while he was on the road participating in the engagement, many professional drivers drove right past his truck and didn’t move over. Although his lights were flashing, he said they ‘don’t pay attention.’

“We hope it brought awareness to the motoring public. It’s a very passionate thing to us,” Parks said. “Anything that we can do to help the movement, anything that we can do to help make the roadway safer, we’ll do.”

The law saw changes towards its penalties beginning Nov. 1, which include higher fines and more vehicles recognized to expand upon safety measures.
Lynn Hamlin, Muskogee Police Department’s Public Information Officer, said that while drivers may be irritated to see more patrol, it’s also a crucial part of educating and spreading the word on the law.

“Some people will be frustrated by it because they're gonna get a citation if they're not doing what the law requires and slowing down and moving over,” Hamlin said. “We understand that that's frustrating, but what they need to understand is that the law is in place to save people's lives. So, if someone gets a ticket, and they tell their friend about it, and their friend didn't know about that law, and now they slow down and move over, then we potentially save lives today by doing this.”

While the law previously only included emergency vehicles, now motorists are required to move over for any vehicle on the side of the road with its lights flashing.

“The whole goal of it is not to get out here and write a whole bunch of tickets to people and cost people money, but to bring awareness to it,” Hamlin said. “Because it is a big problem statewide, so anytime we can get out there and partner with someone and bring awareness to it, that can potentially save someone's life.”

Parks said through their first demonstration, there were 54 people who did not follow the traffic law and were written citations. In order to make the biggest impact and prioritize outreach, Parks and his company are willing to travel outside of Muskogee city limits to remind drivers about the law.

“I'll do it anywhere in the state for any police department. It doesn’t have to be just Muskogee,” Parks said. “I have access to other companies that would do it as well. So if there was any sheriff or any city police officer or police chief in the state of Oklahoma that wants to be a part of it, then we wanna help.”

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