The Week's Features
Seven of the industry’s finest to be inducted to Hall, October 12
Herring Motor Company keeps classic line alive
Recovery management and technology services now one
Delivers Class 6 capability in a Class 5 Super Duty package
Recovery “dance” lifts overturned truck
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJune 12 - June 18, 2019

City, State
RATES
Portage, IN
$125
(Pop. 36,828)
Monrovia, CA
$180
(Pop. 36,590)
Bowling Green, OH
$95
(Pop. 30,028)
Panama City, FL
$87.50
(Pop. 36,484)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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Clean and Tidy Trucks

Clean 00baeBy Randall C. Resch

There's no reason for a dirty tow truck other than one that works in consistent rain, ice and snow. I came upon a tow truck recently that showed many days of grime without being washed; that was unacceptable by my standards. I know the company as a reputable one, so I was confused as to why this particular tow truck looked as it did. Someone wasn't doing their job.

It took me back to my early years when I worked at a large tow company. The owner was a very detail-oriented individual with high standards for his workers. The company towed for law enforcement and had really nice trucks (but the laughable fact was the boss man was the biggest slob on the planet).

His tilt-bed Hino always contained empty milk containers, half-eaten belly-bombers, soda cans and other debris that typically made its way under and between the seats. If the truck was ever to go off the road and into the trees, one could live for a week off of the debris that was in there.

On the other side of that coin was a tow company owner I know who went high-order if anything was set, placed or tossed on the shiny painted dashboards of any one of the tow trucks in his fleet.

Make a Policy

I have a reasonable approach to keeping my company's tow trucks clean and tidy. When dispatch activity is slow, if a driver isn't actively on a call or is staged somewhere in their area, I ask them to take a few moments to wipe down the truck's surfaces, neaten the interior or straighten the equipment and storage boxes.

In my company's Employee Handbook, there's specific narrative that identifies my expectations of cleanliness under "Washing, Waxing, Detailing Company Vehicles." It states:

"Employees in certain specific job classifications MAY be required to wash, wax and detail their vehicle of assignment. During periods of slowed activity, the Company MAY request that Tow Operators and Service Technicians take time and effort to detail or clean their trucks or Company vehicles."

If there's an expectation that drivers are required to care for the trucks they operate, the company is responsible to provide a pressure washer, money for a car wash, cleaning supplies, waxes, electric waxer, window cleaners, interior air freshners, clean rags and chamois, and more if necessary.

For flatbed carriers, the deck's surface must be free of debris and slippery fluids, especially if there's potential that a motorcycle or specialty load requires the operator to walk on the carrier's deck. This includes cleaning the deck of transmission fluid and debris associated with wrecks, recoveries and burn jobs.

Tow truck drivers should be provided the opportunity to return from the field to wash and clean their trucks after a particularly dirty wreck or recovery.

Every Day

Part of my criteria for assigning take-home trucks requires that the truck will be kept clean, tidy and manageable at all times. When tow trucks are out of sight from management, there must be a requirement for self-initiated care that comes from the driver in possession of the tow truck.

It takes a lot of time and effort to wash and wax trucks and support vehicles, but their appearance is a direct reflection on a company's image and the towing and recovery industry as a whole. For tow companies that sport expensive paint, chrome, murals, wraps and accessories, management is responsible to ensure that shine and detail keeps the company's fleet looking clean and professional.

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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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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