The Week's Features
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
New fuel additive increases lubricity up to 56 percent
Seeks to create "emergency response areas" for first responders
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing January 13 - January 20, 2020

Company Uses Robots to Keep Up with Industry

One Atlanta, Georgia, towing company is meeting high-tech with higher-tech to help its customers avoid costly mishaps. Tow Atlanta, based in Scottdale, recently purchased two robots that have been engineered to lift luxury cars from tight spaces without leaving a scratch.

General manager Syre Perkins said the company, which has been around five years, purchased the robots last year in response to changing car designs.

“With these vehicles getting high-tech, the way you tow them over the last 30 years has changed,” he said.

Perkins doesn’t have an engineering background but spent a year designing one of the robots — the 0-degree load angle truck, or flatbed truck, — with Drive Products, a Canada-based truck equipment company and Miller Industries. This robot is similar to its other flatbeds but holds more weight, and is designed to lift a car without damaging its undercarriage.

“I worked with their engineers, back-and-forth,” Perkins said. “When you think you’ve got a design down, there would be a major engineering flaw.”
The tedious and time-consuming process resulted in a $200,000 21-foot flatbed — the only one of its kind in Atlanta, Perkins said.

The company also purchased, TARVA, or Tow Atlanta’s Recovery Vehicle Autobot, a device that can enter tight spaces, like parking decks. TARVA was custom-designed in France and cost $125,000. The device has been in Europe for eight years and can carry up to 8,500 pounds — more than twice the average weight of a car.

The robot loads cars onto flatbeds by first picking up the front wheels and then going underneath the car to lift the rear wheels. A remote control is used to maneuver the car onto a flatbed truck.

“That’s the technology,” he said. “It’s autonomous. It picks [the vehicle] up by all four wheels and you don’t have the human error. The modern technology, that’s the way [the industry] is going.”

Source: ajc.com.


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Lincoln Towing Can Stay in Business for Now

In a reversal of fortune Lincoln Towing Service in Chicago, Illinois, is off the hook—at least for now. A ruling by a judge said mistakes were made administratively in the process to pull the company’s business license.

In September 2018, the Illinois Commerce Commission revoked Lincoln Towing’s license after its investigation found hundreds of improper or illegal tows in a nearly eight-month period.

However, an administrative law judge wrote that ICC staff’s claims that Lincoln towing committed 831 violations is not supported by the record. The judge found only 21 violations in the same eight-month period which equals violations on less than 1 percent of all tows conducted.

Cook County Circuit Judge Neil Cohen said the ICC “violated fundamental fairness and ... due process rights” by failing to advise Lincoln Towing that it could lose its license as a result of the hearing process.

Through a spokesman ICC said, “We are disappointed in the ruling and are exploring all of our options with our legal counsel, the Attorney General’s Office, representing us in this case.”

Source: wgntv.com.
2020 Towman of the Year: Justin Cruse of WRECKMASTER Fame!

Cyber Attacks: Are You Prepared?

cyberattack 08f9bBy Brian J. Riker

Cyber attacks are on the increase and small businesses are not immune. In fact, small businesses are more likely to be attacked than large corporations because defenses are usually much lower … even nonexistent.

According to a recent report by Germany-based Allianz Risk, cyber-attacks have now taken the lead as the top corporate concern globally, displacing business interruption which had held the top spot for the past seven years.

Cyber attack risks come not only from external hackers, but also from internal sources. It is important to make sure you have the proper security protocols in place to protect your data from both accidental and malicious loss.

Imagine how hard it would be to operate your impound yard if all of the vehicle records just disappeared one day? How about if your dispatch software crashed?

The modern tower has embraced technology, as it is a must to survive in today’s industry. With that technology comes risks that also must be managed. We routinely collect sensitive personal information about customers as well as employees that must be protected. Do you have adequate password protection and limited access for this information?

Gone are the days of keeping everything sensitive locked up in a file drawer tucked away in the back corner of the office. Now we have computer terminals at almost every workstation, all connected with a local network and then connected to the world via the Internet.

Most tow bosses can even access all their data remotely from their smartphone or laptop computer. Convenient, but very risky.

Now is the time to perform a cyber-risk assessment. Begin by making a list of who currently has access to what software and data, then determine if they really need that access and make changes as needed.

Next check for physical security issues. Are there computers that are not locked or password protected with access to sensitive info that employees or even the public can get access to?
Make sure any public Wi-Fi at your office is a completely separate network from your business computers. The No. 1 way hackers gain access to sensitive information is through unprotected public access points. Make sure your business Wi-Fi network is password-protected with a unique network key—not the standard one that came with your router.

Develop a security protocol that requires routine updates to all network passwords. Do not allow your team to write them down and leave them in their workstation or use autofill functions on their web browser. This defeats the purpose of having passwords!

Consider setting up a virtual private network for all your remote access needs. Cellphone and mobile data networks are ripe with security flaws that a VPN can protect against.

Many towers are now using virtual phone networks in place of traditional landline telephones. While these are great for flexibility and mobility, it pays to have at least one backup physical landline telephone when the system crashes. Don’t have all your communication dependent upon the Internet or other virtual systems. Always have a second, and even third, method for critical customers and team members to communicate.

These measures seem complicated and may require retaining a computer network specialist. What is the alternative if your data is held for ransom or destroyed? How hard and expensive would it be to recreate years of records? What about lost income because of the loss of supporting data such as pictures or purchase orders?

Lastly, check with your business insurance agent about the cost and availability of cyber attack insurance. It is an excellent supplement to business interruption insurance, which you should already have to protect against losses from fire, flooding and even loss of phone or electricity.

Brian J. Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC and is a contributing writer to American Towman Magazine and Tow Industry Week. 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 brian.riker@fleetcompliancesolutions.net

Engagement

No, no one’s getting hitched … but I do have a “proposal.”

This year, I’d like to make a call to the towing industry to be more engaged.

You see, you are the ones who have the information; and it’s only through the information that you have that the industry can expand to its potential greatness.

Maybe you don’t want to see the industry get bigger. You think, “I’ve got my piece of the rock and I’m satisfied.”

You’re really thinking too small. Who’s to say you can’t have an even bigger piece of the rock?

For the educators and communicators of this industry to make that happen, we need YOU. Fill out the survey, ask questions in seminars, submit to the phone interview, send e-mails to the editors.

Sharing—not hoarding—information can only help your business become the behemoth it was destined to become.

Too “dramatic”? OK, how about this: Sharing your information may give you the tools to expand your fleet and thus your business’ capabilities and opportunities.

Too “academic”? OK, here’s my last attempt: Sharing your information may eventually put more cash in your pocket.

Let’s stick with that one.

--Charles Duke

Warn's Severe Duty 18 Electric Winch

industrial.severe.duty.18 ff5deSevere duty situations demand the winches that are proven in equally harsh conditions. Warn's Severe Duty 18 Electric self-recovery winches features a 24 volt DC electric-power rated to pull 18,000 lbs, three-stage planetary geartrain and Industrial contactor and remote control. Come see all that Warn Industries at the American Towman Show Place taking place at its new location, the Westgate Paradise & Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 14-15, 2020.

warn.com
By Don Lomax
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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
Managing Editor: Brendan Dooley
Media Director: William Burwell
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203,
William Burwell x208, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
ATTV Technical Production: OMG National
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
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January 13 - January 20, 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.

AAA ‘Move Over’ Campaign Recognizes Towmen Killed

AAA launched a new campaign in Florida to protect tow operators and first responders assisting motorists. The new campaign includes a video showing the names of towmen killed in the line of duty, including Bobby Unruh, Kit Tappen and Napoleon Ballard III. In honor of these men and to stop these preventable deaths from happening again, AAA is urging drivers to do their best to keep towmen, drivers, and first responders safe on the roads. In 2019, there were 182 crashes and over 20,000 citations issued in Florida for motorists failing to move over, according to preliminary data provided by the Florida Highway of Safety and Motor Vehicles. Source: news4jax.com.

Towman Dies After Getting Rolled Over Roadside

A Prineville, Oregon, man who was run over by a large tow truck died from his injuries. On Jan. 16, Crook County deputies were dispatched to a serious injury accident. Upon arriving, deputies learned that towman Brian Williams was working to remove a semi-truck/trailer from an earlier crash when he was partially run over by a large tow truck. They determined that the tow truck, owned by Dave's Towing of Prineville, was accidentally moved while Williams was working underneath it. The rear dual tires partially crushed his chest cavity, causing serious injury. Williams was then transported to St. Charles Hospital in Bend. An investigation was conducted, and deputies determined that this unfortunate incident was accidental. No citations or charges are expected. Source: pamplinmedia.com.

Waymo Set to Test Autonomous Truck Tech

Waymo, the autonomous vehicle division of Google parent company Alphabet, plans to begin mapping Interstates in Texas and New Mexico this week in a lead up to testing its self-driving semis. The company’s Chrysler Pacificas will be trailed by its big rigs, which won’t be loaded with freight and will have a driver on board, in the two states. “These are interesting and promising commercial routes,” Waymo said in a tweet Thursday, “and we’ll be using our vehicles to explore how the Waymo Driver might be able to create new transportation solutions.” Source: ccjdigital.com.


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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

atexposition.com
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January 13 - January 20, 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.

Speed’s Towing Asks GPS [b]Apps to Warn Drivers

Speed’s Towing of Portland, Oregon, is asking popular GPS apps to alert drivers of stopped emergency vehicles with a “Slow Down Move Over” warning. The hope is that drivers will then be more likely to actually do it.

Carrie Ransome of Speed’s recently submitted the suggestion to Waze and Google Maps, asking specifically for a “Slow Down Move Over” warning to drivers approaching tow trucks or other vehicles on the side of the road helping in an emergency.

“I’m doing this so that everyone gets home safe, so that our family and our loved ones who are out there rescuing motorists on the road, they get home safely,” Ransome said.

It’s the company’s motto, and they want everyone on the road to take it just as seriously.

“No one that ends up injuring another driver, injuring our tow operators, does it on purpose; they’re just not paying attention,” Speed’s Towing CEO Mike Porter said.

Waze already has some similar notifications in place for things like police or disabled cars ahead. Ransome hopes that with her idea, tow truck drivers could report to Waze any time they’re pulled over to help someone. Then, Waze could send out the warning that way.

Source: kptv.com.

Highway Traffic Safety [b]Bill Introduced in Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland introduced new legislation in the hopes of protecting emergency responders along Wisconsin roads and highways. The bill seeks to create "emergency response areas" wherever law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics and tow operators may be at risk working on the roadside.

This new proposal is patterned after current law restrictions on inattentive driving in construction zones where penalties and fines are doubled. The restriction would include prohibitions on the use of cellphones and other such devices, unless the driver is using a hands-free feature.

The bill also seeks to increase penalties and fines for any bodily harm to a responder or tow operator caused by an inattentive driver. Those fines could be up to $10,000, nine months in prison, or both if convicted.

The Wisconsin Towing Association formally supports this legislation and is hoping members contact their state reps and senators to request support for the bill.

Source: Wisconsin Towing Association.

Towman Says Violations Should [b]Be Criminal Offense

Being a tow truck driver is one of the most dangerous jobs in America because data shows one towman is killed every six days. 

"It's tough for kids nowadays to want to come and apply," said Matthew Bartlett, with Interstate Delaware & South Towing. "Most 20-year-olds don't want to be out here doing what we do on the side of the road. Chances are if somebody gets struck out here, they're not going home that day."

He says some people don't always associate tow truck drivers with the Move Over law, which requires drivers to change lanes or slow down at least 10 mph when crews are on the shoulder of the road. 

Bartlett says he thinks it should be a criminal offense if someone is violating the law. 

"When police officers and firefighters are killed, they are all over national news, regional news," Bartlett said. "And they should be. Towing operators, we are lucky if we get 10 seconds of news coverage."

Source: theindychannel.com.

FMCSA Random Drug [b]Tests to Hit 50 percent

The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration announced its intent to increase the random drug testing rate for motor carriers from the current 25 percent to 50 percent. The change became effective on January 1.

Under the annual random testing rate of 25 percent of all driving positions, at least 1.05 million random controlled substances tests were to be conducted. With a new annual random testing rate of 50 percent, approximately 2.1 million random tests will need to be conducted in 2020. The minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing will remain at 10 percent.

Each calendar year, FMCSA requires motor carriers selected for the survey to submit the results of their drug and alcohol testing programs. As part of the survey, the carriers must provide information on the number of random tests conducted and the corresponding positive rates to the agency in an accurate and timely manner.

Under federal law, the FMCSA must increase the minimum annual random testing percentage rate data received for any calendar year that indicates the reported positive rate is equal to or greater than 1 percent. The FMCSA’s 2018 Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey revealed that the positive rate for controlled substances in random testing increased to 1 percent.

Source: Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration

City Council Changes [b]Towing Rules, Fees

The Peoria (Illinois) City Council voted to approve some changes in how the city utilizes tow companies.

For all police department ordered tows, the standard towing fee will be increasing to $155 from $100. Additionally, a cost of living adjustment will increase the standard tow fee $5 a year, up to $175 in 2024.

There also are changes for tow companies. All tow operators and drivers must now be in possession of a state issued Traffic Incident Management card. Also, tow operators must be able to respond to calls within 30 minutes or less, under reasonable road conditions.

Source: peoriapublicradio.org.

Peterbilt, Dana Announce [b]Collaboration

Peterbilt Motors Co. and Dana recently announced their collaboration on electric powertrain development for Peterbilt Model 220EV battery electric vehicles.

Peterbilt will integrate Dana’s Spicer Electrified e-propulsion system into its 220EV chassis. The truck will also be equipped with two battery packs and an on-board charger.

“By using the Dana electric powertrain for the Model 220EV in the Medium Duty pick-up and delivery market, we will be ready to meet the growing demand of our customers who want to incorporate zero-emissions vehicles into this application,” said Jason Skoog, PACCAR VP/Peterbilt GM.

Source: Peterbilt.
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January 13 - January 20, 2020

Taking a Dive

0 e8025By Jim “Buck’ Sorrenti

American Towing Service in Hialeah Gardens, Florida, is a towing, transportation, and recovery company founded by towing legend Rodolfo “Rudy” Carvajal in 1968. Since Rudy passed, the family owned and operated company has been led by Rudy’s daughter, company president Lisa Carvajal. His son Rudy Carvajal is the company’s vice president.

American Towing Service was recently called by police to retrieve a vehicle that had gotten into some murky waters. 

“This incident happened on January 15, 2020, at approximately 9:15 a.m.,” said Lisa. “We were called by the Hialeah Gardens Police Department to respond to a vehicle in the canal..” 

American Towing dispatched heavy operator Jorge Delgado, who was the supervisor on scene, along with operators Paul Perez and Sergio Alvarez as well as their professional diver and rigger Randy Yuque. Delgado responded with American’s 2015 Peterbilt/Jerr-Dan 50/60 rotator and Paul drove their 2017 Hino/Jerr-Dan rollback.

Upon arrival, the American Towing team surveyed the situation and Jorge staged the rotator alongside the canal where the vehicle had gone in and let out the lines.

Recovery diver Yuque went into the water and dove under, with the appropriate chains needed. He rigged it with both lines from the rotator attached to the chains rigged to the rear of the submerged vehicle for lifting. 

Once it was out of the canal and back on dry land, the team secured it for transport and it was towed to the American Towing police impound yard.

“A big thanks to Randy Yuque, the best recovery diver in the 305!” said Lisa.

Show Yours @ TIW

Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Mixer Rollover Teamwork

0 Mixer Rollover Teamwork TIW 10 58616By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Pearce Truck & Auto is a family owned and operated repair and towing business based in Martin, Tennessee. Eddie Pearce started as a service station and repair shop in 1965 and added towing in 1967. Eddie worked side by side with his wife Judy and sons Joe and Michael until he passed away in September of 2016.

At about 8:20 AM on January 8, 2020, Pearce received a call from the Tennessee Highway Patrol to respond to a cement mixer that had rolled over.

Joe informed, “It happened on Rock Hill Road just outside of Sharon, Tennessee. We were dispatched by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, while Buddy’s Wrecker Service was dispatched by the company at the same time. We were contacted by Buddy’s to assist in the recovery, as it was going to take some serious power to get the job done.”

Both companies responded with the necessary equipment needed to get this job done. Michael Pearce responded in his Unit 21 (Big Red), his 2004 Challenger 9909 70-ton rotator mounted on a 2004 Peterbilt 378 sleeper. Steve Sedberry, the owner of Buddy’s Wrecker Service in Union City, responded with Unit R2, his 2017 Kenworth with a Century 1150R 50-ton rotator.

Steve brought operators Daryl Holder and Richie Collins to assist in the recovery. The crew rigged the mixer to upright it and set it into the road. Lines were rigged to level the mixer as they brought it up and over.

“This was on a very narrow road,” Joe explained, “so rotators were necessary since there was no room to get perpendicular with the truck. With the weight of a fully-loaded mixer, as well as the load being down (wheels up), this would need to be rigged for extreme recovery.”

Buddy’s Century 1150R 50-ton rotator was staged at the front end and Pearce’s Challenger 9909 70-ton rotator was at the barrel end of the rolled over mixer.

With Michael at the controls of Big Red and Collins at the controls of the 1150R 50-ton rotator, the two rotators used the rigging around the barrel to raise it and set it back with the wheels down before rotating it back onto the road between the ’tators.

Joe said, “Once it was back on its wheels, Buddy’s hooked to the mixer and towed it back to the customer’s yard about 40 miles away.”

The teamwork of these two experienced companies made for a successful recovery.

Show Yours @ TIW

Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Snow Fishin’ in Wyoming

0 64fbcBy Jim “Buck’ Sorrenti

What in the wide world of sports is a-goin’ on in southwestern Wyoming? Snow fishin’ is what’s goin’ on. This isn’t a sport for the inexperienced. It takes the right equipment and a detailed knowledge of the rough terrain. So, when a semi driver got his truck stuck, the trucking company called Norberg’s Towing, Green River’s oldest and most experienced towing and recovery company.

Dale Sheridan Sr. and his wife Elaine established Norberg’s Towing in 1967. Their sons Shawn and Dale Jr., manage and operate the family business.

On Jan. 3, Norberg’s received a call from a trucking company carrying 20,000 lbs. of soap additive. The incident happened about 25 miles north of Norberg’s yard in Green River and about 20 miles from Little America.

“This trucking company called us to get their truck out of a ditch down by the river that their driver wound up in,” Shawn said. “We had never towed them before. I guess they Googled us.

“I headed out in the Eagle with my buddy Brian Davis for a little snow fishing at the river.”

The Eagle is a 1998 Freightliner FL112 with a Don Hines bed and a Zacklift. It has a factory double frame and is powered by a C12 engine mated to an 8LL trans and has 46,000-lbs. rear ends with full lockers on a walking beam suspension and an 18,000-lbs. steer axle.

“I had to back in a mile and a half to get to this guy,” Shawn said. “I sure wasn’t going to drive in and try to do the turn around and wind up getting stuck like he did.”

When Shawn and Brian arrived on scene, they found the semi stuck in a ditch in about a foot of snow with no chains on its drive wheels.

“This driver had three GPS systems and he still got lost,” Shawn said. “He even stopped to ask a state snowplow and they told him NOT to go down the road, but he didn’t listen. There is even a sign that says, ‘ROAD CLOSED TO SEMIS,’ but none of this mattered. He must have been paid by the hour.”

The driver had tried to turn around, but went into ditch and dumped his air.

“He had 20,000 pounds of some soap additive that he could have used to melt the snow and ice,” exclaimed Shawn.

“We ran a line from the Eagle down to a chain rigged under the trailer attached to the wired rope,” Shawn said.

Shawn winched the semi out from where it had been stuck.

“Once I winched him out—only about three feet—we put his chains on and he was able to drive out,” Shawn said. “I asked the county snow crew to blaze the hill for me so I could get out without having to put on my chains.

“It pays to have friends.”

The driver drove out and on to his destination, but this was just one of many this year that Shawn had to rescue.

“Numerous trucks get stuck there every year,” he said. “I shake my head at these drivers not paying attention. You can’t fix stupid, but I can’t complain ... It keeps me busy.”

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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NORTHERN - Bronx, NY
$125
(pop. 1,438,159)

SOUTHERN - Charlotte, NC
$85
(pop. 809,958)

EASTERN - Baltimore, MD
$85
(pop. 622,104)

WESTERN San Jose, CA
$200
(pop. 1,015,785)

Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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January 13 - January 20, 2020

Cyber Attacks: Are You Prepared?

cyberattack 08f9bBy Brian J. Riker

Cyber attacks are on the increase and small businesses are not immune. In fact, small businesses are more likely to be attacked than large corporations because defenses are usually much lower … even nonexistent.

According to a recent report by Germany-based Allianz Risk, cyber-attacks have now taken the lead as the top corporate concern globally, displacing business interruption which had held the top spot for the past seven years.

Cyber attack risks come not only from external hackers, but also from internal sources. It is important to make sure you have the proper security protocols in place to protect your data from both accidental and malicious loss.

Imagine how hard it would be to operate your impound yard if all of the vehicle records just disappeared one day? How about if your dispatch software crashed?

The modern tower has embraced technology, as it is a must to survive in today’s industry. With that technology comes risks that also must be managed. We routinely collect sensitive personal information about customers as well as employees that must be protected. Do you have adequate password protection and limited access for this information?

Gone are the days of keeping everything sensitive locked up in a file drawer tucked away in the back corner of the office. Now we have computer terminals at almost every workstation, all connected with a local network and then connected to the world via the Internet.

Most tow bosses can even access all their data remotely from their smartphone or laptop computer. Convenient, but very risky.

Now is the time to perform a cyber-risk assessment. Begin by making a list of who currently has access to what software and data, then determine if they really need that access and make changes as needed.

Next check for physical security issues. Are there computers that are not locked or password protected with access to sensitive info that employees or even the public can get access to?
Make sure any public Wi-Fi at your office is a completely separate network from your business computers. The No. 1 way hackers gain access to sensitive information is through unprotected public access points. Make sure your business Wi-Fi network is password-protected with a unique network key—not the standard one that came with your router.

Develop a security protocol that requires routine updates to all network passwords. Do not allow your team to write them down and leave them in their workstation or use autofill functions on their web browser. This defeats the purpose of having passwords!

Consider setting up a virtual private network for all your remote access needs. Cellphone and mobile data networks are ripe with security flaws that a VPN can protect against.

Many towers are now using virtual phone networks in place of traditional landline telephones. While these are great for flexibility and mobility, it pays to have at least one backup physical landline telephone when the system crashes. Don’t have all your communication dependent upon the Internet or other virtual systems. Always have a second, and even third, method for critical customers and team members to communicate.

These measures seem complicated and may require retaining a computer network specialist. What is the alternative if your data is held for ransom or destroyed? How hard and expensive would it be to recreate years of records? What about lost income because of the loss of supporting data such as pictures or purchase orders?

Lastly, check with your business insurance agent about the cost and availability of cyber attack insurance. It is an excellent supplement to business interruption insurance, which you should already have to protect against losses from fire, flooding and even loss of phone or electricity.

Brian J. Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC and is a contributing writer to American Towman Magazine and Tow Industry Week. 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 brian.riker@fleetcompliancesolutions.net

Is Your Gas Can Federally Compliant?

Gas can 5a648By Randall C. Resch

Part of the road service game is outfitting tow trucks and service vehicles with proper equipment to conduct roadside services. One of those typical services that tow companies, auto club providers or those serving Freeway Service Patrol operations conduct is delivering a few gallons of gas to your roadside motorist.

There are many gas cans on today's market that aren’t approved for refueling activities. It's important to read the gas can’s small print before it sits on the back of your truck.

No You Don’t

Tow owners are astonished when inspectors fail a truck during annual inspections because the truck or carrier was outfitted with an illegal gas can. How can that be? If a commercial inspector were to read the backside of your gas can, would the can be in compliance to federal requirements?

Example: A carrier was purchased new from an equipment manufacturer and was outfitted to meet the California Highway Patrol’s Form 234B, Tow Truck Inspection Guide. The inspection guide requires a “gas can.” The tow company simply brought the carrier to the inspection, where the inspecting officer told the tower that the can wasn’t a legal container. On the back on the gas can the wording read (in raised molded letters), "Not intended for refueling on-road motor vehicles.”

That's one of those terms that is open to interpretation by officers who fail the truck, or one bent on writing a ticket. Remember: Almost every cop has a pet-peeve and this is one of those "enforcement peeves" that goes unnoticed until that one-in-a-million cop stops your tow truck for inspection.

What does the statement mean? The “Not intended” part is easy as is the purpose and design of a gas can that’s specific to delivering product necessary to make the vehicle go. However, to me the last part of the statement bears asking what the definition of an “on-road vehicle” is. That could have different meaning to different people.

Accordingly, that wording sent me into a frenzy of research.

According to BusinessDirectory.com, it defines a “road vehicle” as, “A vehicle designed to legally carry people or cargo on public roads and highways such as buses, cars, trucks, vans, motor homes and motorcycles. This would not include motor-driven vehicles not approved for use of the road, such as forklifts or marine vehicles.”

So what’s illegal about the can? Could it be the spout or gasket?

The Law Says

DOT-approved containers “need to meet the Performance-Oriented Packaging requirements of the Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations.” A standard safety container doesn’t meet the requirements for transport. However, there are safety transport containers that have hold-down brackets for the lid and guards to protect the spout assembly. Some portable containers have DOT caps that replace the spout assembly during transport to make them compliant. Old style jerri cans with screw-in caps that replace the spout assembly can also meet DOT requirements.
• A safety container is approved by a third-party such as UL or FM, not more than 5-gallons capacity, having a flash-arresting screen, a spring closing lid and spout cover and so designed that it will safely relieve internal pressure when subject to fire exposure per OSHA 29 CFR 1926.155(l). Its design is intended to prevent the can from exploding by use of a venting lid and flash arrestor. They are required when used by any business or commercial enterprise.

• A portable fuel container is any reusable container designed and marketed for use by consumers for receiving, transporting, storing and dispensing gasoline, diesel fuel or kerosene. All utility jugs that are red, yellow or blue in color are deemed to be portable fuel containers regardless of how they are labeled. This container’s design is intended to control evaporative emissions and reduce spillage. These are often referred to as CARB (California Air Resource Board) compliant containers. Models are also designed with child resistant features to meet the Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act. They are generally intended for consumer use.  

While these containers can be used for storing or transferring fuel, the real key for our industry is whether they can be used for transporting fuel on our commercial road service vehicles. The short answer? It depends on the container. 

Does that help?

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.

Training for the New Year

ResponderSafetyNetwork 7d6e5By Brian J. Riker

I am not one to hold much stock in New Year’s resolutions; most are disregarded within days. That said, New Year’s Eve is often a time for reflection on the past year, provoking thoughts of what could be done differently in the upcoming year.

Tragically our industry lost more than 60 workers in 2019, an alarming and unacceptable number. Sadly many, if not most, of these deaths did not need to happen. Many were the result of industrial accidents where either faulty equipment, inadequate training or lack of a safety conscious workplace was the root cause of the accident.

Many of the struck-by incidents on the highway could have been prevented by implementing proper traffic incident management protocols, use of better judgement or simply towing the vehicle rather than performing a roadside repair. I’m not criticizing the person that was injured or lost their life: I’m simply stating that that training and following the procedures taught in such courses is very important for our safety.

Laws and regulations alone simply do not work to keep us safe. If that were the case, we would no longer have drunk or distracted drivers, speeding on slippery roads or any of the hundreds of other poor judgement calls that lead to our fellow towers being injured and killed almost daily.

The well-intentioned Move Over laws have not had the desired effect on safety, nor will they anytime soon. Motorists are simply too distracted. Operating their vehicle has become second or even third to whatever else they are doing while behind the wheel.

As the tow operator or roadside service technician, you must take full responsibility for your own safety every time you respond to a call for help. It is up to you to use the best possible judgement for each call. Asking for support is not weakness, because there is no room for false bravado in safety. Refuse to service a vehicle in a bad location until you have advance warning in place or another means of providing scene protection.

I also call upon each operator as an individual to set aside some time this month, and each thereafter, to take advantage of any of the many free online training resources for roadside safety. My personal favorite comes from the Responder Safety Learning Network where there are hundreds of hours of free training available. They do a great job of providing a cross-discipline approach to traffic safety for roadside workers responding to crashes and stalled vehicles.

I’m calling out those employers that do not provide the time and resources for this type of training as a discredit to our industry. However, that is no excuse not to take advantage of the free resources on your own.

The first tow boss I worked for as an 18-year-old kid didn’t show me anything except how to fill out a call ticket; he never even evaluated if I knew how to drive the truck let alone operate it as a wrecker. That lack of support did not stop me from seeking out and attending training on my own, even when it cost me time and money to do so. I am begging you, my fellow tow operators, to work on self-education in 2020.

It just may save your life!

Brian J Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC and is a contributing writer to American Towman Magazine and Tow Industry Week. 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 brian.riker@fleetcompliancesolutions.net
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January 13 - January 20, 2020

Serving the Sunshine Coast

0 e4c06By George L. Nitti

A name that everybody knows on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada, is Walt’s Towing & Automotive Services.

Not only because the name is well advertised on the side of their 2016 Freightliner/Century 22’ LCG flatbed, but because the company has been in business since 1962, when Walt Loitz started the company.

“We kept my Dad’s name despite the fact that I tried to change it to Coast Auto Towing,” said Walt’s son Todd, who took over the business a few years ago. “When I changed it, everybody kept asking for Walt. So I changed it back.”

Walt, now 94, still loves riding in the truck.

“My father calls me and says, ‘C’mon and pick me up,’ ” Todd said. “Up to five years ago he was even hooking up.”

The unit itself is simply designed, wrapped in a blue-to-red gradient effect with the company name written in large gray letters spilling over the side of the door.

“Serving the Sunshine Coast since 1962,” is proclaimed over the doors.

“We used to get a lot of sunshine and snow here,” said Todd, “but that’s changed as the weather’s changed due to global warming. Now it doesn’t get that cold in the winter.”

Todd started working for his father pumping gas at a young age and has been with the company for 39 years.

“I’m either crazy or I must really like it,” he said. “It feels good to help people. The key is that you like what you do.”

Todd’s enthusiasm for his job also has translated into yearly business growth, with many repeat customers.

“Our motto is ‘Treat the customer the way you want to be treated,’ ” Todd said. “I always tell my customers to have nice day, and always with a smile on my face.”

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at bdooley@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

The Duke

0 64955647 2387464428203825 7398201877415854080 n copy 6b4e2By George L. Nitti

Popularly known as The Duke, John Wayne is one of the key images found on a wrecker owned by Torch Towing and Transport, Inc. of Meridian, Idaho.

Immortalized on the cabin of their 2018 Peterbilt 378 with a Century 9055 side puller, Wayne’s nickname “The Duke” is prominently displayed with his image in skeletal form showing him slinging a pair of guns.

Torch’s owner T.J. Monroe said that driver Darren Buys, “has a room full of John Wayne memorabilia and is a big fan. Sometimes it takes us a few months to name a truck; but when we do, it sticks. His daughter named it.”

The design and wrap was skillfully executed by Wildside Wraps, with their name given recognition under the cabin.

“Our trucks are so flashy,” Monroe said, “that people often want to know who designed them. We put their name on our trucks and send them as much business as possible.”

The company uses the same base wrap as they do on their other trucks: black and orange. Gears, pistons and the innerworkings of a machine also subtly protrude out, an effect that Monroe calls “Bionic.’”

The company, which was started four years ago, was named after Monroe’s racing nickname.

“They called me ‘The Torch’ when I was traveling the country doing circle track racing,” he said. “I decided to name the company after it.”

The “Torch” name is clearly iterated on the side doors of the Peterbilt, while the name company pops out in larger lettering at the backside.

“I was working with my wife’s family doing light-duty towing,” Monroe said, “when I saw a niche for more heavy-duty and transport. We started it right away.”

His wife also came up with the catchy slogan found on the side: “We don’t want an arm and a leg; we just want your tows.”

Pithy as he was, The Duke couldn’t have said it better.

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at bdooley@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

Fastlane and Love of Family


0 88631By George L. Nitti

Symbolism found on tow trucks sometimes carries meaning beyond the public’s understanding.

For Brian Slesinski Sr., owner of Fastlane Towing in Collingsville, Illinois, his new 2017 Kenworth T880 twin-steer/Century 1075 with six winches was an opportunity to do something very special.

"This was probably a once-in-a-lifetime truck," Slesinski said. "There are a lot of things that have meaning towards our business which you will find on it.”

Part of the essence of the design, skillfully rendered by airbrush artist Rhyno Templeton, replicates ingredients found on the $100 bill. It includes the company name written above the United States of America "serial numbers" reflecting the company’s DOT number, a $100 symbol and other unique touches.

"In 2002, I left a company over a $100 raise they refused to give me,” Slesinski said. “I ended up leaving the company and starting my own. That is why the hundred dollars is on there."

Slesinski used the image of The Joker instead of Ben Franklin to symbolize “the joke is on you," because he made it despite the challenges.

"When I left the company," he said, "nobody wanted to give me the money to start a towing company. It was a lot of hard work. My wife was answering the phones and my son was driving a small truck while I went out selling at night. I started the business in the basement of my home."

A Kenworth truck is found on the hood of the rotator and provides tribute to a couple of generations of family members. It underscores Slesinski’s commitment to family values.

“The design came from a tattoo on my arm,” he said. “The stacks on my arm are wrenches giving tribute to my grandfather who was a mechanic and worked on tractor-trailers. The air cleaners are paint guns with my dad’s name because he was a painter of semitrailers.”

Over the image of the legal tender, a large tow chain envelops this giant green unit with modern, zig-zagging lines giving it additional flavor. The name of the company is seen on the side doors in a catchy font.

On the visor of the Kenworth is another family name while on the front bumper it states, “Family Tradition,” in an elegant, flowing script.

“My son, daughter, wife and sometimes grandson work here, including my son-in-law and daughter in law. We are family owned and operated.”

Slesinski concluded, “We’re always going and we don’t take days off. That’s how it is in our business. … But we do it for our kids and grandkids so that they can have a better life.”

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at bdooley@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!
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January 13 - January 20, 2020

LX4 Increases Diesel Fuel Lubricity

lx4jpg d2380A new fuel additive from Hot Shot’s Secret improves diesel fuel lubricity up to 56 percent. Developed for use in either low lubricity Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel fuel or gasoline, LX4 Lubricity Extreme prevents unnecessary wear and scarring of key components inside the fuel system—particularly injectors, the fuel pump and upper cylinders. For any vehicle utilizing ULSD low lubricity fuel, LX4 restores fuel’s lubricity, exceeding the Engine Manufacturers Association’s recommendation for fuel lubrication; the company said LX4 will not void the manufacturer’s warranty, is safe for particulate filters and is easy to use.

hotshotsecret.com

Work Light, Flood Light

Ecco EW2530 copy2 e90d3Ecco’s new white lighting solutions for work trucks include the EW2530 with six 10-watt LEDs. This light functions as both a work light and flood light, with a unique 120-degree diffused beam pattern and shines over 290’. The EW2530 is weather resistant and built to last with a lifespan of 50,000-plus hours.

eccoesg.com

All-Weather Dexterous Gloves

piritel 29f5fPirtek USA’s new 2121P Hex1 Series glove provides protection from hand injuries while maintaining a high degree of dexterity. The glove is designed for easy on and off, while providing a solid grip in dry or light-oil situations. Hex1 gloves work for impact protection, wet or dry grip, cold weather or simply as a shop glove. Features include: SlipFit cuff; synthetic leather palm; high dexterity; form-fitting; launderable; and a reinforced index finger and thumb saddle.

pirtekusa.com
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January 13 - January 20, 2020
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January 13 - January 20, 2020
Rondrecus Scott was accused Jan. 7 of with the second-degree felony of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle last November. Image - kxan.com

Police: Man Drove with Agent Stuck in Car Door

A man has been accused of assaulting a repo agent last November by driving away while the repo man was caught in the door in Austin, Texas.

On Nov. 15, an agent from Auto Credit of Austin and his manager tracked the Nissan Altima belonging to Rondrecus Deaundre Scott at an Exxon station in Williamson County, according to the arrest warrant. Police say the repo men explained that the cars sold at the dealership have tracking devices attached to help find vehicles that might need to be repossessed.

The victim told police he had many casual conversations with Scott in the past and formed a casual friendship. The victim also noted he had sent several text messages to Scott to warn him that the car payments were late and they needed to be caught up to avoid repossession.

According to the police report, the repo team found Scott sitting in his car at the gas pump. The victim told police he started a conversation with Scott to let him know he needed to repossess the Nissan Altima, to which Scott responded, “I don’t think I can do that.”

The agent said while he was standing at the open driver’s side door, he reached into the car to turn off the engine. That is when Scott punched him in the stomach and then drove the car in reverse, trapping the repo man between the door and the door jam, the affidavit said.

Scott then put the car in drive and “accelerated rapidly,” flinging the victim from the door jam to the bumper of the tow truck and causing head, arms and back injuries, according to the report.

Police note that surveillance footage at the gas station show that it was not possible for Scott to be unaware the victim was still caught on the car.

Scott was accused Jan. 7 of with the second-degree felony of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle.

Source: kxan.com

Changes to FDCPA Could Affect Lenders

Leaders at the American Financial Services Association are concerned that amendments to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last year could limit how often auto lenders are able to seek repayment via phone calls. If that happens, consumers would be more likely to have late payments lead to vehicle repossession, AFSA contends. 

Changes to the rule would, among other things, limit third-party debt collectors to seven telephone calls per week. Once the bank reaches the customer, the third-party debt collector must wait at least a week before calling the consumer again. While lenders aren't third-party debt collectors, AFSA leaders are worried the association's members could end up being similarly restricted.

In a study published in late 2019, AFSA concluded that when phone calls to customers are restricted, not all customers are reached in time to make payments on delinquent accounts. That means there would be a higher chance of vehicle repossessions in such cases. It requires at least 30 attempts to reach up to 20 percent of borrowers in a given month, AFSA found. Approximately 11 percent of borrowers require more than 49 telephone attempts before they're reached.

Source: autonews.com

SCM Grew Agent Network 300% Since 2013

Secure Collateral Management (SCM) highlighted that its network of repossession agents has grown by 300% since 2013.

The skip-tracing provider and forwarding company said it is looking to stay on that trajectory by reiterating its pledge about paying those agents when work is completed without any extra fees attached.

“Skip companies and forwarders need to recognize how tough it is to be on the front line of this ever-more regulated business,” SCM chief financial officer Jim Farley said. “We at SCM truly appreciate the pride and integrity recovery agents take in performing a difficult job. We cannot control the price of diesel or cost of insurance for our agents, but we can work hard to provide accurate debtor information.

“When the service is performed by the agent, we can immediately recognize them for a job well done by paying their fees the same day,” Farley went on to say.

Source: autoremarketing.com

Repo Agent Honored by Tow Community

The North Texas towing community turned out in full force the evening of Dec. 8 to remember a repossession agent killed on the job.

Zach Johnson of Texas Auto Towing Service was repossessing a vehicle in Sanger on Dec. 2 when he was shot by 37-year-old Barry DeGeorge.

DeGeorge claimed to own the vehicle Johnson was trying to repossess. He fired at Johnson from his hotel room on the third floor.

“He was a huge teddy bear,” said Joe Baker, owner of Texas Auto Towing Service. “Very nice man, very respectful young man.”

Tow operators met in Keller to pay their respects to Johnson and show support for his family. They turned on all the flashing lights on their wreckers and gave his dad a few things to remember him by.

“Everybody has a family waiting for them at home, and your main goal is to get home safe,” Baker said. “So this creates an awareness for everyone in the industry.”

DeGeorge was arrested in Denton County and faces a murder charge.

Source: dfw.cbslocal.com.
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