Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, Celeste Wallace was happy to see a vehicle with amber lights pull up. Tow truck operator Bill Gonzalski offered to help.
"Without his help, I don't know where I would be, so I really appreciate the tow truck guy,” Wallace said.
Bill appreciates a good paycheck, but after 30 years in the towing business, he's had too many close calls on the highway.
"You'll jump over a guardrail or if you hear tires screeching, you don't look to see what is going on, you just run in the other direction,” Gonzalski said.
One year after the "Move Over" law expanded to protect tow truck operators, cars still speed by Gonzalski, without moving to the outside lane.
Across the state, troopers caught 11,792 drivers violating the law last year. The New York State Police region covering Central New York, Troop D, had the fewest violations at 350.
"Unfortunately, sometimes it’s education through enforcement. People get pulled over. When we ask them why they didn't move over or why they didn't slow down, they'll either say that they weren't aware of the law or they weren't paying attention,” explained New York State Trooper Jack Keller.
Drivers who violate the state’s “Move Over” law face up to 15 days in jail, three points on their license and a $275 fine, plus an $85 court surcharge.
In 2011, the original law took effect, requiring drivers to change lanes to create a safe distance when vehicles with flashing red lights are pulled over on the side of the road. If it isn't possible to safely move to the outside lane, or if there is only one lane, drivers must slow down.
On January 1, 2012, the law was amended to include hazard vehicles with flashing amber lights, such as maintenance crews or tow truck operators.
The "Move Over" rules were inspired by workers who died helping others, including Onondaga County Sheriff's Deputy Glenn Searles and the former owner of a tow service in Mattydale, Todd Young.
Gonzalski believes many people are unaware of the law. Others may get used to seeing the lights of plow trucks traveling on the road during the winter, unintentionally overlooking tow trucks pulled over. The cost of driver inattention can be steep.
"It is hard to put a monetary value on a life," Gonzalski noted. "Whether it is state police, local police, a tow truck driver, anybody...you want to go home to your family."