The Week's Features
They’ll cost one Oregon towman $42,000 each to get rid of them
Do you have the certifications required for commercial use?
Law imposes new disclosure requirements on auto lenders
Design was quite different from what was expected
Cleaners for mud, engines and glass available in spray cans
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Events
AT ShowPlace
Las Vegas, NV.
May 9-11, 2018
Tow Expo Dallas
Dallas, TX.
August 16-18, 2018
AT Exposition
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 16-18, 2018
Don't Miss It!
In his seminar, “Avoiding Job-Related Health Hazards ,” Troy Auto Care Owner Don K. Hudson will present a power point presentation and lead a discussion on the dangers of blood borne pathogens, being stuck with sharp objects and the crisis of being exposed to Fentanyl while doing a job. Join Hudson for this important session taking place at the American Towman Exposition, November 16, at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingOctober 17 - October 23, 2018

City, State
RATES
Providence, RI
$82
(Pop. 179,154)
Cape Coral, FL
$150
(Pop. 165,831)
Independence, MO
$200
(Pop. 116,830)
Roseville, CA
$195
(Pop. 128,382)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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Motorists Love Motor Clubs

motor clubsBy DON ARCHER

Imagine you're not in the towing business and while traveling with your family to another state you have car problems.

It's 10 p.m., the engine light on your dash just came on, and your car shut down. As you take the shoulder and prepare to stop, you suddenly realize that you can't remember the name of the last town you passed through.

You're a fairly resourceful guy, so you pop the hood and attempt to assess the situation. While tinkering around in the engine compartment, your wife and 5-year-old daughter are waiting in the car. Your wife assures your little girl that, "Daddy will fix it," as she has complete faith in your ability to handle any sticky situation.

But you can't handle it. You become frustrated as you realize you have no idea what's wrong with the stupid thing. You're in the middle of nowhere and as far as the eye can see there's just highway and cornfields.

In a second, a million thoughts go through your head. Your mind races with fears of the worst kind. Maybe "Mad Max" fear that a marauding gang of bikers will race to your location and harm your family. Or maybe a hitchhiking serial killer will slip out from the cornrows quietly ending it all.

You shake those thoughts from your head, and bring yourself back to reality. You don't have time for this, you've got to take action—spending the night in the car is not an option.

So considering your alternatives you think: "I could call my brother ... but he's four hours away."

You let that one go as the thought of waiting that long and inconveniencing your brother doesn't appeal to you—besides your car would remain roadside in that scenario.

"I could call a tow truck," you say to yourself. But immediately the question arises: "What if the tow truck driver is a mass murderer? What if he takes us to his shop in the hills... under the guise of fixing the car ... and kills us all?"

You shake your head again; "Don't panic." There's got to be an answer.

Just then you remember you've got roadside assistance, "Last year I added roadside assistance to my auto insurance plan." All your fears melt away as you realize you've got roadside assistance.

It's sad, but many motorists still hold a negative image of towers, especially outside their geographic comfort zone. Many believe that highway robbery not only exists, but also is prevalent in the towing industry today. They think the true saviors of the road are the insurance companies providing roadside assistance.

Becoming accustomed to roadside assistance, motorists would rather wait a little longer for the security and peace of mind that comes from using the services of a towing company that's affiliated with their insurance carrier.

Even though you're the same guy who'd show up if they called you direct. The only difference is now—with the motor club involved—you're required to do it for less.

Motorists love roadside; face it, they're not going to give it up. How do you overcome these challenges? How do you prevent your business from becoming demonized, marginalized and commoditized? It's next to impossible ... especially when what passes for tow-truck reality in the media today is Lizard Lick and South Beach.

It's unfortunate but if you're a good towing company you're not newsworthy. The deck is stacked against you.

Wouldn't it be nice if we lived in a world populated by win/win thinkers? A world where people understood that their actions—whether good or bad—have repercussions that project far into the future? If that were the case we might not be in the situation we are today.

The beliefs held by motorists, portrayed in the media and exploited by the insurance companies, did not appear out of nothing; they still exist and persist today because of the real abuses of the past.

The sooner we accept that truth and stop complaining about things that aren't going to change, like motor club rates, the sooner we can develop strategies to take advantage of what is.

Like the fact that motorists love roadside assistance.

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.
hd-rates

Is Your Drone Use ... Legal?

pexels d4430By Brian J Riker

Drones have exploded in popularity in recent years and now towmen are using them in creative ways to promote their business, showcase abilities or even help collect documentation for invoicing. American Towman even used drone footage in the coverage of the inaugural Spirit Ride from Las Vegas two years ago.

As cool as this technology is, do you have the legal certifications required for the commercial usage of these drones and the resulting video footage? I am willing to bet that answer is likely no.

In an effort to protect American airspace, the Federal Aviation Administration has developed regulations and standards for the use of model aircraft and other unmanned flight systems such as drones.

The FAA regulates commercial usage of drones as subject to 14 CFR Part 107. Typically, if you are not flying recreationally as a hobbyist under Section 336, your use requires certification by the FAA. The FAA uses ordinary definitions of hobbyist, meaning it must be for relaxation and distinctly separate from your occupation.

Your drone must be registered with the FAA and comply with all applicable regulations.

I will focus on commercial applications since that is what flying a drone becomes once you use it to document your work—especially if you then use the footage for promotion, training or billing. This type of flight usually will require compliance with Part 107 regulations including:

Registering your drone with the FAA if it weighs more than .55 lbs.

Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) pilot certification or Section 333 waiver.

Notifying nearby airports and control towers (if within five miles of such).

Waivers to fly over or near emergency response scenes.

Waivers to fly directly over people.

Display registration number on drone and carry your certificate.

Stay within Class G airspace (400' ceiling, maintain visual contact).

Fly only during daylight hours or civil twilight without a waiver.

The visual contact rule further complicates the use of drones during poor weather.

The FAA has developed a mobile app, B4UFLY, to help drone operators determine if they are in restricted airspace or are free to deploy their aircraft. I highly recommend using the app to help keep you in compliance.

Perhaps the most problematic for towmen is the restrictions on flying near emergency response scenes or over people: both conditions are usually present in our daily work environments. The FAA restricts airspace near emergencies such as wildfires, hurricanes and other emergency scenes where aircraft may be part of the response effort.

To legally deploy drones over people or at emergency scenes you may be required to obtain waivers for use in temporarily restricted airspace. Depending on the agency that is restricting the airspace, a UAS pilot may need to obtain permission from an agency other than the FAA.

Other restrictions to airspace involve national security. For example, Washington, D.C., has the most restricted airspace in the country. All drone use is prohibited within the inner loop, a 15-mile radius. Limited deployment of drones is permissible in the outer loop, a 30-mile radius around D.C. Other areas near military bases, some power plants and stadiums or sporting events are also restricted.

Another consideration regarding aerial photography with drones is privacy. It is always a good idea to protect the identity of your customers, especially when their vehicles are found in a compromising position.

(Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and the following is not legal advice. Check with your attorney for specific rules on privacy in your area.)

What about protecting the privacy of individuals who are bystanders? It may be permissible to capture video in public areas where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy; however audio may be restricted by various state laws. It is always a good idea to obtain signed waivers from anyone in a video that may be published, especially if they did not have direct knowledge of their participation prior to filming.

Drones are a great new tool in our toolbox. The video can help prevent future mistakes when reviewed as part of an after-action briefing. It can help us justify our invoice on complex recoveries ... and it looks cool when used as promotion material.

My last word of caution, and this applies to conventional photographs as well as video footage: Make sure what is released publicly depicts proper procedures and portrays a positive image unless used in a training environment. Keep in mind that regulatory agencies such as OSHA look at public forums and can initiate an investigation based off a news report or other public display of wrongdoing.
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WreckMaster President Justin Cruse said that the WreckMaster Convention will bring together towers from all over North America to provide a unique and beneficial opportunity to broaden knowledge.
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