Tow truck driver Phil Henkemeyer is once again pleading for motorists to slow down and move over when encountering emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road with lights flashing.

Henkemeyer was pulling a motorist out of the ditch about 9:10 p.m. March 16 when a driver going more than 60 mph lost control on icy Hwy. 23 near Rockville in central Minnesota and slammed into the driver's side of his truck. It was the second straight winter his truck was hit.

"It was that godawful sound, again," Henkemeyer said.

The crunching and twisting metal brought back memories of Dec. 29, 2021, when a different driver rear-ended Henkemeyer's truck as he pulled a vehicle out of a snowbank on Interstate 94 near Avon, Minn.

Both crashes could have been avoided if drivers obeyed the Ted Foss Move Over Law. The law states that motorists on roads with two or more lanes in the same direction must move one full lane away from stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights activated. Those include police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, tow trucks and maintenance and construction vehicles.

If it is not possible to move over, drivers must slow down significantly when passing by.

The Move Over Law was enacted in honor of state trooper Ted Foss, who was killed while conducting a traffic stop on the shoulder of Interstate 90 in Winona in 2000.

"Drive to conditions of the road," said Henkemeyer, who has worked for Collins Brothers Towing in St. Cloud for the past 10 years. "I get people want to get places, but for their safety — our safety — if you see lights, don't put yourself in that position. Your life and safety is at risk."

The driver who hit Henkemeyer's truck in March suffered noncritical injuries.

Henkemeyer escaped injury both times his truck was hit. But had the crashes happened 10 seconds earlier when he was standing by his truck, Henkemeyer said he, like his truck, may have down for the count, or worse.

"I must have a really good guardian angel," he said. "Sometimes it's too close for comfort."

Though the Move Over Law has been on the books for two decades, troopers still see drivers routinely violating it, said Lt. Gordon Shank with the State Patrol.

Data from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) shows 550 vehicles responding to roadside incidents have been hit from 2018 through 2022.

As of Wednesday, state troopers had cited 423 drivers this year for failing to move over. That comes after troopers wrote more than 6,300 tickets for the offense from 2020 through 2022, according to DPS.

Why don't drivers move over? Sometimes they are impaired, distracted or simply don't see the flashing lights, Shank said.

"Once we talk to those drivers, many apologize," he said. "It only takes one time for a driver to not move over" to lead to a bad outcome. "Give troopers [and others like Henkemeyer] space to do their job."