Grieving mother spreads message for Tampa Bay drivers to ‘move over’ for emergency vehicles

Local News

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Twenty thousand Florida drivers violated the move over law last year, authorities say. A grieving mother is on a mission to change that.

“He had such a kind heart and he just loved life,” said Linda Unruh.

Unruh owned Unruh Towing & Repair for decades in her home state of New Mexico. Her son Bobby was her safety coordinator.

Courtesy Linda Unruh

“He was my right-hand person to go to. He was my go-to person,” she said.

In February 2017, her 37-year-old son died when he was hit by an 18-wheeler going 82 miles per hour.

Bobby Unruh had arrived at the scene to help another tow truck operator.

“One 18-wheeler failed to notice, failed to slow down,” said Unruh. “My goal is to reach people so that we can have zero loss on our highways and that’s my mission.”

Nineteen days after her son’s death, New Mexico signed “Bobby’s Law” which adds tow trucks to the list of emergency vehicles included in the state’s move over law.

Linda Unruh now travels the country to tell her story. She spoke Thursday at the AAA headquarters in Tampa.

“Those first responders were entering the most dangerous place on earth: our public highways,” she said about other people killed on the roadside in America.

Florida requires drivers to put a lane between them and any emergency vehicle pulled over. If that is not possible, drivers must slow speed to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.

According to AAA, one worker or first responder is killed on the roadside every other week in this country.

“We’re all at risk for this. A lot of times you’ll see multiple people being injured because of a move over violation,” said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, Florida Highway Patrol.

Move over violations caused 185 crashes in 2018, according to Sgt. Gaskins.

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