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Florida’s American Towing Service gets into murky waters
Speed’s Towing makes suggestion to Waze and Google Maps
Blue-to-red gradient effect is background for company’s name
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Seeks to create "emergency response areas" for first responders
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Spotters for Rotators, Heavy Wreckers

image7 6a8f2By Randall C. Resch

I taught a California Highway Patrol Operator's safety course recently that included tow operators of all ages and experience levels. At the start of every class, I hold a safety briefing to remind all hands to have their heads on a swivel; especially when tow trucks, carriers and forklifts are on the move during techniques and scenarios.

About mid-way through one class, a young tower wasn't paying attention as a carrier was backing up across the yard. When I saw his actions, I immediately stopped the class. His naïve, but unintentional, movement seemed like the perfect segue to have a discussion regarding the safety and dangers of backing up.

Too Often

Many years ago as a budding tow driver, my dad gave us his version of on-scene, in-the-yard, backing safety. It was simple and to the point, "Don't put your wrecker in any location where you have to back up unnecessarily."

In our line of work, it's not always possible to avoid backing.

At the San Diego Police Department, their own policy says, "If there are two officers in a police vehicle, the passenger officer will exit (the) vehicle and provide a visual, 'second set of eyes' to the backing movement."

If a two-officer police car had an incident while backing, both the vehicle's driver and the second officer would be held accountable. Officers working alone were required to make a full walkaround of their car before travel.

How many of you take a walkaround of your tow trucks and carriers to see if there are any obstacles or other persons before you drive off?

Who's to Help?

Enlisting a spotter is a perfect-world situation if there are others around to become your spotter. Many of the world's tow companies are mom-and-pop operations and spotter availability is not always possible. Still, the truck's operator must be aware of their surroundings at all time.

The same applies when you're on the road. Due to the sheer size, bulk and blind spots, every backing movement can be potentially deadly. A solid set of hand signals is the best way to communicate between the tow truck's driver and the spotter that's behind them.

In this litigious time for accidents and injury, not having written narrative in your company's employee handbook could weigh heavy on the outcome of the lawsuit. When these situations occur, an injured plaintiff or representative of the deceased will assuredly attack your tow operator's driving record, their background and your company's training.

If your company's employee handbook makes no mention of safe-backing protocol, the total price of a lawsuit could be monumentally increased. It may not be not fair, but failing to make any attempt to prevent a backing incident plants the seed of incompetency. It makes perfect sense to include a spotter when big rigs are backing up. Like other dangerous tow-related situations, get people out of harm's way.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.


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What would be the most effective way to mitigate towman roadside deaths?
Allow for blocking vehicles
Allow police vehicle lighting for tow trucks
Education/TIM training
Steeper fines for Move Over violations
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Editor: Charles Duke
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Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
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January 22 - January 28, 2020
AAA launched a new ‘Move Over’ awareness campaign in Florida, which includes a video showing the names of towmen killed in the line of duty.


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Don't Miss It!
Are your business’s day-to-day actions are best guided by an Employee Handbook? Without a solid set of written guidelines, activity is nothing more than orchestrated chaos. American Towman Operations Editor Randall C. Resch’s seminar, “The Value of a Solid PPM Manual,” will give emphasis to nonspecific and uncommon employee situations not typically covered in HR manuals for towing and recovery. This seminar will take place during Tow Industry Week at its new location, the Westgate Paradise & Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 14-15, 2020. atshowplace.com

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January 22 - January 28, 2020
Carrie Ransome of Speed’s Towing submitted a suggestion to Waze and Google Maps, asking for “Slow Down Move Over” warnings. Image - kptv.com.
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