The Week's Features
News reports note uptick in tower activity downtown
Motorist awareness of the law touted on truck
Roadside steps to increased safety awareness
New design makes down-driveway hookups easier
Puts cap on assets; forces four off board by end of year
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American Towman Operations Editor Randall Resch instructs on avoiding sloppy actions on-scene, questionable vehicle operations and chances that tower’s repeatedly take. His seminar, “Wreckers in Trouble,” will take place during Tow Industry Week, May 9-12 at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. atshowplace.com

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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingFebruary 21 - February 27, 2018

City, State
RATES
Dover, NH
$90
(Pop. 30,220)
Nacogdoches, TX
$150
(Pop. 34,047)
Danville, IL
$85
(Pop. 32,649)
Mount Vernon, WA
$178
(Pop. 32,287)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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Someone On Your Side

196082 dfca7By DON ARCHER

What would you think, after arriving to work early on a Monday morning, if everyone there was smiling? If you're like me, you'd think you walked in the wrong door.

But wouldn't that be nice?

In a perfect world, the employees would all be smiling. Every tow truck would be kept clean, equipped and readied by drivers who know that each encounter is an opportunity to create an advocate or an adversary. Dispatchers would handle each call with care and empathy, reinforcing the belief that the customer is what makes this whole thing work. And the outside sales rep would be chomping at the bit every morning, eager to hit the road and stir up more business.

Wouldn't that be exciting? Wouldn't you want to be a part of a business like that—part of a system that works?

For any system to work, there are many moving parts operating a multitude of functions, all with a singular goal.

But things don't always run so smooth. Take for example the human body. Sometimes the stomach doesn't get the needed supplies and the brain slows down. Germs and bacteria can prey on this weakness and tear the body down even further, causing problems.

But the body doesn't take this stuff lying down: it's prepared with white blood cells when bad things happen. When a threat is detected, the white blood cells eradicate it.

The same thing can happen within a business or an entire industry.

When an outside threat, perceived or real, hits your business, who do you to turn to? Who's going to provide the needed support?

Your state rep? Maybe.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses? Possibly.

Chamber of commerce? Good luck.

They're nice guys; but do you really think they understand your business? Even if they did take the time to learn the ins and outs, would they give your issue the attention it deserves? Maybe for a time, but interest would soon wane and they'd move onto other items that better suit their own agenda.

What you need is a group of guys like the white blood cells. You need guys who have as much at stake as you. Remember if the white blood cells lose the battle ... the entire body is lost.

Where can you find people like that?

Start with your own state towing association. In my state, we've got the Missouri Tow Truck Association. These guys understand our needs and know more about towing legislation and the legislative process than anyone else in the state. They care about our concerns—not because it's politically expedient for them to do so—but because they're the same concerns they have for their businesses. At the state capital—if something important doesn't get through—they're going to feel it where it counts.

Something they're dealing with right now is the same thing towers in Pennsylvania and other states must contend with: outside interests cozying up to law enforcement, proposing third-party dispatching systems. You know what I'm talking about.

What our association has done, and something I think may be beneficial for all states that are facing similar threats, is to propose a bill that prohibits the state patrol from the use of a third-party dispatching system. It's Missouri House Bill 1707 if you want to take a look.

It's not a guaranteed homerun; but if it passes, it'll slow down what many consider to be a blight on our industry.

Don Archer lives and works in Jefferson City, Mo., where he and his wife, Brenda, own and operate Broadway Wrecker, a 12-truck operation that's been in business since the 1950s. Email him at don@broadwaywrecker.com.
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Total Safety Compliance is a Process

1 cb03dBy Randall C. Resch

I responded to an email that posed a flurry of safety questions regarding loading or towing from the shoulders of a highway. The writer's questions were, "When a vehicle is on the left-side of the highway and a tow driver has to use controls on the traffic-side because that's where the controls are ... how much time does he or she spend there working the controls? ... What's the total range of minutes for that job? If it's less than one-minute, can the driver wait for no cars coming and work for five seconds at a time, look again to see if it's clear, then hide and waits again until another clearing takes place? Can they do this for 10-minutes if it doesn't take longer than that and until the job gets done?"

These are all great questions and here's my combined response. I believe two of the most obvious reasons that tow trucks or tow operators are struck is because, one, they're working the traffic-side of the tow truck or carrier, and two, when the tow and load process takes too long by increasing their exposure or possibility of being struck. The longer towers remain in the same place, the odds increase that they'll be struck. Although, tow operators can play the "Peek a Boo" game, that's a very dangerous practice that's resulted in numerous operator strikes.

I believe tow operators must use common sense in determining if location scenarios are too dangerous and what techniques should be used. In a perfect world, a typical tow/load scenario shouldn't take more than seven to 10 minutes to be ready to roll.

Where a shoulder location is deemed dangerous, by working quickly towers have a couple of options:

1. For carrier operators, once the vehicle is loaded and the deck is stowed forward for transport, from the non-traffic side, climb up the carrier's deck and attach all top-side chains and ratchet straps. Although it gets the tower off the pavement and away from the traffic-side, this is a dangerous practice as there's literally no place to go if the carrier were to be impacted. Worst scene scenarios suggest the tower would be crushed between the headache rack, by the vehicle atop the carrier's deck, or swept off the side. Tow owners don't like this option as it could minimally lead to slip and fall.

2. Better: Load or attach the disabled vehicle using safe and efficient techniques to avoid working/standing on the traffic side. Next, drive the tow truck or carrier forward and into a clearer, safer area to attach remaining safety chains and ratchet straps. This technique provides additional safety room if there's room to be had, but increases time spent on-scene.

3. Best: Load or attach minimal safety chains and ratchet straps using non-traffic side techniques, place the vehicle in-park and in-gear, and then carefully tow or transport it to the first off-ramp where remaining safety chains and straps can be applied.

Note: Technique No. 3 is where tower's get into trouble when they don't stop to apply remaining straps or chains and continue to drive to their intended destination. This option is only intended to load or tow the vehicle forward to a safer location or off-the-highway, not to disregard applying all safety attachment devices or accessories. Technique No. 3 makes best sense when asking, "Is it reasonable or prudent for a pedestrian worker to stand in a traffic-lane or dangerously close to approaching traffic?"

Tow operators are bound by vehicle code law and industry best practices to employ appropriate four-point tie-downs for carriers, ratchets and hold-down straps, as well as required safety chains in providing for a safe and solid tow or transport. Nowhere in any state vehicle code does it state that tow operators must put themselves in harm's way; however, most vehicle code language was written long before distracted driving was an epidemic. It's my opinion that current vehicle code laws and their specific meaning places tow truck operators in harm's way.

I believe that every tow operator who thinks logically and safely will have an on-scene hookup routine that enables them to prepare a vehicle for load or tow while remaining as safe as reasonably possible. The number of tow operator fatalities or struck-by incidents (for all first responders), suggest that pedestrian, highway workers, or, first responders are most vulnerable when working the traffic-side of the highway.

Accordingly, professional tow operators must be aware of what techniques are necessary to avoid becoming another statistic. Remember, it takes 1 second for distracted motorists to enter the shoulder's workspace. And, when vehicles travel at highway speeds, there's a probable chance that towers can't react.
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