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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingSeptember 19 - September 25, 2018

Lug Nut Day: The Importance of Routine Training

Wreckmaster0027PartwayUp e21d7By Brian J. Riker

A few years ago I was reminded of the Ron White comedy routine that centers around a national tire chain's failure to properly reinstall one of his tires. While his presentation is quite funny, it is no laughing matter to anyone that runs a service center or does roadside tire changes.

A friend of mine was taken to court for damages that occurred after a wheel separated from a customer's car on the highway. Despite having clear video from the security camera in the garage showing the technician using a torque stick on their impact wrench while tightening the lug nuts—an industry-accepted practice—they were still found liable for damages to the tune of several thousand dollars.


The plaintiff was able to argue that despite all the precautions taken they failed to have routine training for their technicians on basic procedures. The shop could not produce a written certificate of completion for any routine training, nor could they show the technician had recently completed any outside continuing education or certification programs.

The unfair part of this is that this shop has done it right from day one. The owner firmly believes in proper training, has monthly safety meetings, routine training classes, requires ASE, I-CAR and other certifications for their technicians, WreckMaster and incident management training for their tow operators, even management classes for their office staff.

A simple piece of paper in a file would have saved them from the trouble and expense of a trial, or at least the judgement against them.

Shortly after this incident, the owner developed a method to provide routine training reminders, documenting compliance with internal and external education requirements. To prevent a recurrence, they decided on a mix of readily available industry-specific classes and internally developed classes tailored to their unique needs.

It is tough to find the time to conduct training without disrupting your daily operations, but the liability it removes from you is priceless. Routine training does not have to be complicated (there are many do-it-yourself options) nor does it have to be time-consuming. A few minutes weekly is all you need.

Many companies choose to outsource routine training, especially in areas such as environmental, industrial safety or OSHA. This content is easily delivered over the Internet allowing you to train when it is convenient without assembling the entire team in one location. You can even deliver training over in-cab communication systems to allow drivers to maximize downtime by completing continuing education while waiting for the next dispatch.

The bottom line is that you need to remind your team of the basics often, in a written and documentable manner, to keep from becoming complacent. A recertification test is a great way to remind someone just how much they have forgotten about a subject they are supposed to be an expert in.

True professionals practice the routine as well as the complex so that when it counts they don't have to think about the right thing to do because it is instinctual.

Brian J. Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC. He specializes in helping non-traditional fleets such as towing, repossession, and construction companies navigate the complex world of Federal and State transportation regulatory compliance. With 25 years of experience in the ditch as a tow operator Brian truly understands the unique needs and challenges faced by towing companies today. He can be reached at
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