The Week's Features
Three body manufacturers will give live demos in Las Vegas
Recovering over 50,000-lbs. from a 70-percent grade driveway
Markets Class 8 chassis in U.S. for first time
Tow company says contract was arbitrarily cancelled
SDR Towing has interesting design of decals on trucks
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Dollying High-End Cars

Dollytowing eaef6By Randall C. Resch

A Georgia tow company responded to tow a high-end Mercedes-Benz that struck a deer. The tow company suggested to the motor club they be approved to use a wheel-lift and dollies, but the motor club dispatcher immediately refused.

High-end vehicle owners are wired a little more tightly than your average car owner—guarded—to protect their investment from the potential incidental damages of a careless or inexperienced tow operator.

To high-end vehicle owners, it's a scary proposition because they're ultimately stuck in between what their dealer says, what they read in the owner's manual and what the motor club dispatcher says. Their "high-end mind" becomes a whirling dervish of confusion by the time your company's dispatcher starts talking wheel lift and dollies.

Once the dealer, mechanic or motor club tells them to demand a car carrier, you can bet they're locked into the "carrier-only" mode. Why wouldn't they be apprehensive?

So, it's your company's job to help ease their pain.

Only the Best
I can say with credible certainty that today's modern vehicles are more sophisticated, tighter, lower, advanced and extremely complicated. When flatbed carriers first hit the towing and transport scene, it was thought that carriers were the answer in solving all those nightmarish "wrecker" issues.

Nope, not so fast!

Only those tow and carrier operators who demonstrate high-end capabilities should be dispatched to high-end requests ... even if that means holding the call and dispatching it to the next available experienced tower. It makes perfect sense to let the vehicle's owner know up front there might be a delay as you're waiting for the right operator to properly handle their situation. However, effectively explain that a wheel-lift and dollies can be equally effective.

Sell Your Services
The entire process of towing and transporting high-end vehicles starts in the dispatch office. Dispatchers should be trained in the nuances of towing and loading high-end vehicles to know the type of tow truck or carrier that should be sent to the call. Just because the motor club says their member is broke down in a Porsche Panamericana doesn't mean a carrier is the best truck for the job. The tow company should decide what truck will tow or transport the vehicle without experiencing any problems.

Remember: the manufacturer is the builder of the vehicle, the owner is the owner; but we towers are supposed to be the expert in towing and transport. The owner's manual gives generic guidelines that may not be correct for all tows and all situations. Convincing a vehicle's owner about the right process of tow or transport is based on your company's effectiveness in explaining what techniques are best for towing their high-end vehicle.

Your ability to clarify the mechanical process of loading a vehicle onto a tow truck or carrier should be detailed and realistic. Carefully and enthusiastically tell the vehicle's owner about the benefits of using a wheel-lift and dollies vs. having to drag their vehicle onto an awaiting carrier (oil drips, stripped transmission gears, etc.)

Sell your company's services; but be sure that your company's varsity players are up to the task of providing damage-free towing.

The hesitation of carriers vs. dollies stems from manufacturers stating that carriers are the recommended or preferred way of transport. Here's a suggestion in helping you sell dollies: Keep a small, color photo book of high-end cars in your tow trucks for showing owners what dollies look like when they're set up. Include a plethora of pictures of the entire dolly process in order of application.

Whip out your trusty photo book to show those vehicle owners—who may have no mechanical sense—hoping that if they see a picture of wheel-lifts and dollies in action, they'll agree to the service.

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.

Lane Blocking: Is it Really a Good Idea?

garbage c4fd3By Brian J. Riker

I have noticed a trend lately of towers using their equipment to block traffic for fellow operators. While I applaud their intent and truly appreciate the camaraderie that is developing among towers (it is about time we start acting like a brotherhood), there are risks associated. The choice to block or not is solely yours to make.

I am aware of several incidents where the blocking truck was struck, likely saving the other tower from injury, but in the process creating a huge liability issue for the tower that was just doing a good deed.

In most states, towers are not authorized to close a lane and can be liable for any accident or injury that results from doing so.

I was involved in a lawsuit last year where a tower that was simply loading a disabled vehicle on the side of a limited access highway was sued for injuries to the occupants of the vehicle that hit his tow truck because he did not have the legal authority to encroach upon the travel lane of the highway. This settled out of court for an undisclosed sum and resulted in the tow company having great difficulty affording insurance to continue operating.

Should you decide to permit your employees to block for a fellow tower what will happen if your truck is struck? Most likely your insurance company will deny the damage claim because you had no business reason to be in harm's way; same for your worker compensation insurance should your employee get hurt.

The person that struck you will sue your company, your employee and your insurance company as well as the company you were blocking for in an attempt to recover a large monetary reward. It is even possible the police will cite your driver for causing the crash, which will lead to insurance and continued employment issues for all involved.

If you are fortunate enough to work in a state that does recognize towers as emergency responders and gives towers the right to close lanes as needed, make sure the drivers that are blocking have had the required traffic control training. It is simply not enough to place a tow truck with some emergency lighting along the fog line and call that traffic control.

Check with your state and local transportation agencies to see what the exact training, licensing and insurance requirements are to close a lane. Then see about providing traffic control as an ancillary service and generate some revenue from it. If you are legally permitted to provide traffic control and are billing for doing so, it will be much harder for your insurance company to dodge their liability for your company's actions.

Your company should have a formal policy regarding blocking for fellow towers. This policy should cover when it is permissible to do so, if you can do so for competitors or just company trucks and what procedures must be followed should you decide to allow lane blocking.

Again, I applaud the sentiment and appreciate the risk my fellow towers are taking. I simply would not be doing my job if I did not point out the risks associated with this trend. The choice is yours to make.

Bottom line: While we all feel a civic duty to protect our brothers and sisters on the highway, we must do so in a safe and legal fashion. It does not help our case for better traffic control if we become part of the problem.

I know we all feel helpless to stop the devastating loss of life on the roadside within our industry. Sadly, I do not see a quick or simple solution to this problem as distracted driving is at an all time high. Stay safe, wear appropriate safety gear and watch your back ... that's the best advice I can give.

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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