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Tow truck drivers in Iowa hope to shine a light on a proposed bill

A bill moving through the Iowa Senate would make it illegal for civilian tow trucks to use red and blue lights. Drivers say this could do more harm than good.

STATE CENTER, Iowa — Iowa weather can make the roads extremely dangerous, and two truck drivers are often the lifeline helping people out of harm's way. 

Tow truck drivers say the job can be dangerous.

"On our fleet, we try to put as many lights as we possibly can to be safe," said Jon Mustaine, owner of Mustaine's Towing & Recovery.

The 27-year veteran of the towing business got permission to install thousands of dollars worth of red and blue lights on his two tow trucks.

"You just don't want anybody to get hurt by not having proper lighting, yah know, if they're trying to load something up," he said.

Now, tow truck drivers are pushing back on a bill that, they say, would make their jobs more dangerous.  They're concerned that a proposed law could change the color of the light they're allowed to have when working on the side of the road.

Right now, the proposed legislation is moving through the Iowa Senate as Senate File 331.  The bill makes provisions for lights on vehicles like snowplows and other emergency vehicles.

But it also includes a rule that says, "A towing or recovery vehicle, unless owned by the state or municipality, is prohibited from being equipped with red and blue lights."

Mustaine says that if he is limited to the traditional yellow-colored lights it could make it more difficult for motorists to see him working on the side of the road.

According to a study conducted through Texas A&M University, red and blue lights are more conspicuous and drivers tend to perceive an incident as more hazardous when they see red and blue lights.

Mustaine has reached out to lawmakers asking them to reconsider the proposed rule.

"When you're on the side of the road doing this at night, you just want to come home," Mustaine said.

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