By Kelsey Keener
Local towing companies and law enforcement agencies participated in American Towman Magazine’s Spirit Ride ceremony last Friday to bring awareness to the Move Over law.
Spirit Ride is a traveling ceremony that raises awareness for the Move Over laws in many states while honoring first responders who have been killed on the roadside. Cedar City is one of 300 cities that will participate in the ceremony this year.
The ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance, then Command Team member Mike Corbin sang a song titled “Spirit Rider.” A blessing was read by Logan Rhodes of All Ways Towing, then Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower and Wayne Hall of Mountain Towing each read statements addressing the need to get more citizens to slow down and move over when an emergency vehicle is present on the roadway. After a ceremonial bataan was passed among first responders present and another song, the ceremonial casket was loaded onto one of Mountain Towing and Recovery’s tow trucks. The casket, “Spirit,” was escorted around Cedar City and then relayed to the next ceremony location.
In addition to Mountain Towing and Recovery, All Ways Towing and Freedom Towing also participated in the event. Many first responders and agencies were represented during the ceremony as well, including the Cedar City Police Department, Gold Cross Ambulance, the Iron County Sheriff’s Office and Utah Highway Patrol.
CCPD Sergeant Jerry Womack said almost every state has Move Over laws and it’s important for people to follow them.
“Fortunately, we haven’t had any (deaths) in our area,” he said. “But we have had multiple officers get hit in our area over the last couple of years, out on the freeway and on our city streets. It’s important for people to realize that when they see emergency lights they need to slow down and move over.”
Sheriff Gower said a key factor in getting people to follow these laws is educating the public.
“We’ve got to educate the public: give us the room we need to work out in the field, especially on the high-speed roadways,” he said. “We’re just lucky more of us don’t get hit; we always have to have eyes in the back of our head or have someone spotting for us. The more we can educate the public the more lives we can save.”
Lt. Del Schlosser from the Iron County Sheriff’s Office said this national campaign is a good way to show the public the dangers of not following Move Over laws.
“This is a great opportunity to show the dangers of that and what has happened not only in our own communities but also throughout the state and throughout the nation,” he said. “It’s a great time to give a reminder that all times you need to slow down and move over for not only law enforcement but all emergency personnel on the side of the road, whether that be fire, EMS or the tow companies.”