GREEN RIVER– The very professionals who earn a living from highway accidents are now taking to the streets to promote highway safety and help safeguard the lives of fellow first responders.
The American Towman Spirit Ride is continuing on its journey, relaying a colorful, ceremonial casket from tow truck to tow truck across the nation.
The casket honors first responders who have been killed on the roadside and carries the message: Slow Down, Move Over.
About 300 towing companies across the country are relaying the casket to promote their state’s Move Over law with processions involving 10,000 tow trucks and emergency service vehicles.
The Spirit Ride to Make a Stop in Green River
The Ride, which began in June of 2017, will pass through Green River with the Spirit casket being relayed to Norberg Towing.
“We’re working along the highway, and cars pass you going 80 miles per hour. It’s not very fun when the breeze passes you as you’re standing there, or when you’re pelted with rocks,” Sheridan Norberg of Norberg Towing said.
He said he heard about the Spirit Ride in the American Towman Magazine and decided to work with them to bring them to Green River.
“We’ve had eight trucks hit since the company was started,” Norberg said. This year marks the 50th year since Norberg Towing was created. Norberg said even after all this time, many people still don’t move over when a first responder or tow truck is working on the road.
“The Spirit Ride needs to stop in Wyoming. It needs to cross the whole state,” he said.
A ceremony will take place Thursday, July 12, at 11 am, at the Railroad Depot, 200 E Railroad St. It will be followed by a procession of tow trucks and emergency service vehicles through Green River.
The Move Over Law
The Move Over law is unknown to many motorists. According to the National Safety Commission, 70% of American motorists do not know the law exists.
The law is on the books in all states of the Union and requires passing vehicles to move over one lane when approaching an incident where emergency lights are flashing and tow operators, police, fire fighters and emergency medical technicians are working.
A new law went into effect in Wyoming on July 1 that also requires motorists to move over when passing by maintenance, construction, and utilities workers on interstates and highways.
A Casket Named Spirit
The ceremonial casket, named Spirit, was custom painted by artist Cecil Burrowes, who specializes in painting intricate designs on trucks and wreckers. Painted on Spirit are a dozen scenarios depicting first-responders at the scenes of highways incidents.
The casket was built by a lifelong singer-songwriter, Mike Corbin, who composed the Spirit Ride’s anthem, Bless the Spirit Riders, which he performs at the ceremony to honor fallen first responders. The ceremony precedes the procession of emergency service vehicles.
About 100 First Responder Roadside Fatalities Each Year
Hundreds of roadside professionals are casualties each year of roadside incidents; about 100 of them are fatalities. Among first responders killed, 60% of them are tow operators.
According to American Towman Magazine President Steve Calitri, the Ride is the greatest towing project since the first tow truck was built in 1916.
“The Ride is generating public awareness of the perils first responders face and galvanizing police resolve for enforcing the Move-Over law,” Calitri said.
The Spirit Ride was founded by American Towman Magazine and B/A Products and is a project of American Towman Spirit, Inc., a nonprofit corporation, born to promote highway safety.
Scores of sponsors have pitched in with funds to support the coordination of the Ride and its media outreach campaign. All the towing companies participating are contributing their services.