Industry Report Highlights Adoption of Emergency Lighting In Response to Increasing Roadway Fatalities

A 2019 Emergency Responder Safety Institute (ERSI) report stressed the importance of elevating scene lighting.

In the first two weeks of 2020, seven roadway responders were struck and killed by vehicles. That’s seven lives in 14 days with three of those lives belonging to tow truck drivers.

In an era of distracted drivers, tow companies are adopting new emergency lighting and vehicle conspicuity practices to better alert drivers and divert oncoming traffic away from the scene. The Emergency Responder Safety Institute (ERSI) recently released a report summarizing 44 struck-by fatalities of U.S. roadway responders in 2019, the first report of its kind to include mobile mechanics and tow truck drivers among first responders. Another study, analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that 191 tow workers were killed between 2011 and 2016 with 64 percent of those deaths being attributed to motor vehicle incidents.  So, what can be done?  As part of the 35-page report, the ERSI suggested several mitigation strategies:


The ERSI documented a number of organizations that have adopted traffic advisors, lit amber/yellow arrows sticks that improve visibility and give clear direction to approaching motorists. Additionally, the report recommended multi-level or high-rise light systems above obstructing views and to create visibility farther away from the scene. While some advisors utilized directional pulsing light bars, the study found that large arrow boards were especially effective at diverting motorists away from the scene.

Command Light, an industry leader in emergency scene lighting for more than 25 years, manufactures a series of Traffic Flow Boards that can rotate up to 360 degrees, giving drivers the ability to direct the advisor toward oncoming traffic as they position the rig for recovery operations. When not in use, these Traffic Flow Boards fold down for a low-profile design. Command Light offers three different traffic pattern variations powered by 12V DC.


Traffic flow boards can help divert traffic away from responders.

The report also addressed bright white lights, which often cause glare and visibility problems for crews and motorists when these LEDs are not properly elevated. The report strongly suggests elevating and positioning white light to illuminate only work areas. Light towers are one of the most effective ways to control lighting.

In fact, these towers offer up to 360 degrees of rotation, while the light tower clusters and elevates the light, much like sports stadium lighting, to improve illumination for recovery teams while creating non-glaring light that alerts motorists of the incident ahead. To illuminate dual work areas, Command Light offers optional backlight that enables the bottom row of lamp heads to rotate 180 degrees, and Command Light’s design allows the tower to overhang the vehicle in a streetlight position, directing the light down as suggested by the ERSI report.

Command Light offers more than 20 different DC-powered light towers in varying heights and eight different fixture choices. To see the full tow industry catalog, visit And to ensure more companies can equip their trucks with a light tower, Command Light commissioned HiViz LED Lighting, a FireTech brand, to create an economical fixture for its Knight Series, Shadow Series, and Straight Shadow models. This LED shaves the cost of a new light tower by 33% while delivering a 14,000-lumen output per fixture.

“We can’t say enough about elevating scene lighting, whether your crew is deploying a traffic advisor or a light tower,” said Roger Weinmeister, Command Light President. “Seven lives in 14 days. It’s unacceptable. The ResponderSafety Team said it best after releasing its ERSI report, ‘We simply cannot wait another day to make this a top priority.’”

The ERSI has made its tracking of 2020 struck-by-vehicle deaths to date available to the public at The ERSI also produces and the ResponderSafety Learning Network (, which offer online training and traffic safety certification programs.

[alert-success]A BLEAK START TO 2020

In just nine days, three tow truck drivers were killed while aiding the public.

  • In Maywood, Ill., Andre Dove-Ferdere, a 23-year-old tow truck driver, was struck and killed while assisting state police in towing two cars from a crash. He died on the scene. His emergency lights were activated. The incident happened at 6:03 a.m.
  • In Millani, Hawaii, Aaron Malama, a 43-year-old tow truck driver, was struck while standing next to a stalled vehicle on the freeway. He was transported to the hospital where he later died.
  • In Watertown, S.D., a vehicle struck and killed Dales Jones, 47, while he was trying to remove another vehicle from a ditch. The incident happened at 8:35 am.[/alert-success]