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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing May 31 - June 06, 2023

Bigger is not Always Better

dumptruckcover ea2e9
By George L. Nitti

Although tow operators are skilled at maneuvering their units in tight spaces, some spaces prove more challenging than others, requiring a different approach and equipment. 

Last June, McGuire’s Towing & Recovery of Ashland, Kentucky was called in the afternoon to recover a dump truck weighted down with more than 10,000 pounds of gravel. It had overturned on a narrow county road that was partially under repair.  

“The dump truck went up the hill and had to back down the hill,” said principal tow operator Stephen McGuire. “When there’s a lot of weight on a small road and you get too close to the edge, it will give way. So this dump truck rolled right over into a ditch.” 

Ideally McGuire’s would have recovered the dump truck with their 50 or 60 ton rotator, but that was impossible under the circumstances.  

Arriving on scene 65 miles from their location, brothers Stephen and Sam McGuire brought in their 2018 Ram 5500 2465 Century 12 ton/SP 9000 Side Puller and a 2015 Peterbuilt 337 Century 3212 16 ton. 

Stephen said, “The two trucks that we got in there were about as big as we could get in there.” 

Looking at the little room in which they had to maneuver and the extreme angle at which the dump truck was perched, Steve admitted that the recovery looked daunting, saying to himself, “This is going to be a nightmare. Maybe we will come back tomorrow.” 

But as the two brothers prepared for the job (they have been working together since they were kids driving with their father at 8 to 10 years old) they were resolved to finish what they started. 

Stephen said, “Working with my brother – we kind of feed off of each other. We’ve never left anything behind.  Everything we went after, it’s came out and it’s come with us at the time we went to go with it.”  

The first line of business was clearing the area and offloading some of the gravel. Fortunately, a Kubota Excavator was being used along the county road and was available for their use to clear away brush, briar thickets and poison ivy around the casualty.  

“We also had to deal with a huge hornet nest that was buried in that bank on the top side of the dump truck,” said Stephen. 

Then the tow operators positioned their trucks in front and behind the casualty. 

“We had to take the front hubcap off to get the truck in place because there was no room to get any angle. We backed up one truck a mile and half while the Dodge was driven in.” 

Establishing winch lines to the casualty, Stephen ran a three-part line to the front springs of the passenger side of the dump truck while Sam handled the back side, running a two-part line to a tree about 50 feet up the hill and back down, where it was hooked to the backside of the driver’s side. 

Tightening up the lines, they checked for any issues that would have “showed themselves up” during the recovery process and slid the truck up sideways until they were able to upright it by first sliding the rear onto the road and then pulling up the nose of the truck. 

“We had to work quickly,” said Steve. “In these hills it gets a little darker a little faster.” 

With mission accomplished in less than an hour, the truck was drivable, with no damage. 

Show Yours @ TIW

Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor George L. Nitti at georgenitti@gmail.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman Magazine!





American Towman Today - June 02, 2023
American Towman Today - June 02, 2023
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California Tower Struck and Killed

A tow truck driver was hit and killed by a passing vehicle late Wednesday, May 31, as he was helping a stranded motorist on the 5 Freeway near Glendale, California authorities said.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the man, whose only been identified as a male in his 40s, was stopped on the southbound side of the 5 Freeway, helping a stranded driver.

As he was attempting to load up the vehicle onto his tow truck, he was struck by a Nissan Versa that was passing by.

The woman driving the Nissan, identified as Rachel Fewings, and the driver of the disabled vehicle remained at the scene, both of whom have been fully cooperative with officers, CHP said.

Investigators said alcohol and/or drugs are not suspected to be a factor in the crash.

The cause of the collision remains under investigation.

Source towforce.net



Highway 5 in Glendale, California, where a tower was struck and killed on Wednesday night.

The Return to Hands-On Training 

handsontraining f2c9b
By Randall C. Resch   

For California rotation tow companies, owners can choose hands-on training or allow their operators to train online. When Covid wreaked havoc and eliminated live courses due to social distancing, online courses were accepted to meet training requirements by the highway patrol.  

Although online training was allowed as the means to get operators trained, it eliminated the much-needed component for operators to train hands-on. Now that Covid’s deemed over, should training return to hands-on?  

I dislike online operator training for a number of reasons. Let this narrative serve as my opinion that online training doesn’t deliver the same value hands-on training provides.  

The Downside? 

In a disagreement with a west coast tow business owner, we traded opinions as to what program offered best value when it came to tow operator training. While online training has its place in any industry, I’m not so sure online information can meet the stringent capabilities demanded by the tow and recovery industry. We tow and recover with wreckers and carriers, not from a computer screen. 

Especially true to new operators, online training doesn’t prepare newbie towers for real world situations or tactical applications. The lack of hands-on scenarios eliminates an ability to apply techniques not possible through pictures and videos.  

Would you as owner consider the online trained applicant versus an applicant that’s attended a multi-day, hands on training event? Would the newbie tower be able to effectively apply what they’ve learned online? 

Remember, the industry has no set standards like the fire services, NFPA 1500. Many tow companies fail to teach proper tow, transport and recovery techniques while hurrying to get the new driver into a truck.  

So, here’s the rub. The California Highway Patrol’s Tow Service Agreement for rotation towers speaks to its five-year training requirement, Section 8, Tow Truck Drivers, sub-section B., where it states: “Completion and/or documentation of a tow truck driver’s training does not indicate a sufficient level of competence.”  

Let me ask you: Does a heart surgeon become competent by taking an online course? Does a pilot become competent flying aircraft after reading a manual? Does a hand gunner get weapons capable without first practicing (hands-on) the handling of the weapon, breathing through trigger pull, shooting live ammunition, etc.? 

When an autoloader tow operator jumps into a flatbed carrier, does that online course supply “physical skills” to drive a larger vehicle, set-the-deck, operate a larger vehicle in traffic, know tie-down skills, two vehicle loads, etc.?  

During live action courses, attendees work together to foster teamwork skills. Hands-on learning improves cognitive understanding of subject material and social skills. Through group activities, attendees learn how to visually and physically determine best practice solutions, develop leadership skills and how to delegate while working together as a team. 

To the LE community, the lack of hands-on training may lead to increased time on-scene. This relates to extended times at tow and recovery events while increasing the potential of secondary crashes. An increase in additional time on scene is directly related to officer and motorist safety.  

For agencies allowing online training only, competency and on-scene abilities are proved by operator competence, not necessarily to one’s level of experience. Learning hands on helps to develop a feeling of confidence; improve critical thinking; understand the tow & recovery industry is incredibly dangerous; demands confidence and competence; practice “simulated actual events” in a safe, supervised environment where attendees learn from mistakes; provides an environment for practicing skills other than keyboard observation 

Selected Training 

While there’s many ways to work a rollover incident on a busy highway, winching, rigging, snatch block use and tow vehicle positioning might easily be watched on an online presentation, but nothing replaces ability when hands-on technique and application is key to success. 

I salute tow owners who choose hands-on training over online training. Convenience and travel costs shouldn’t be determining factors for selecting training that stimulates, motivates and excites the senses.  

Owners, when getting the most bang for your buck, a conscious decision is at the forefront of what training you choose for your operators. I believe towers (of all levels) should return to training every five-years for an update in industry changes, new laws and a chance to undo those bad habits.      

Operations Editor  Randall C. Resch is a retired California police officer and veteran tow business owner, manager, consultant and trainer. For 51-years, he has been involved in the towing and recovery industry. In 25-years, he has contributed more than 625-articles for American Towman Magazine and TowIndustryWeek.com. He was inducted to the International Towing and Recovery Industry Hall of Fame and was the 3rd recipient of the industry's "Dave Jones Leadership Award." Email Randy at rreschran@gmail.com 

American Towman ShowPlace-Las Vegas 2023 Was A HIT!
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May 31 - June 06, 2023
The new fees, if approved by the City Council in June, would primarily affect vehicles towed from crashes.

Tow Rates Rising in Superior, Wisconsin

Tow Rates in Superior, Wisconsin, which have not increased since 2012, are set to go up after Superior’s Public Safety Committee took a second look at the city towing ordinance. Rates are expected to rise for towing fees and storage rates for all vehicles. The changes are expected to move forward to the full city council for a vote June 6. 

The tow fee for a vehicle up to 8,000 would increase to $127 while those of more than 8000 would increase to $137. Storage fees will be set at $32.50 per day. Storage fees were last raised in 2016. 

In April the committee approved raising the fee 30% over the city’s previous fees. City towing company operators approached the committee in February seeking a 50% increase in tow fees due to the rising cost of equipment, fuel, wages and inflation.  

Source: superiortelegram.com/

Anti-Regulation Bill Passes in Texas House and Senate

The Texas Regulatory Consistency Act (HB 2127) ("TRCA") has passed the House and most recently the Senate, where it is now heading towards Governor Abbott's desk for the last remaining step to passing. Abbott is expected to sign it, as he supports the Bill, as do Business Lobbying Groups.

This controversial bill, passed along partisan lines, with Republicans in support and Democrats against, overhauls city and county regulation of licensed occupations in Texas.  If signed by Gov. Abbott, it will go into effect on September 1, 2023.

According to Texas Tow Operators, "The TRCA allows a person licensed under the Texas Occupations Code (such as a towing company or a vehicle storage facility) to sue certain governmental actors (such as counties, municipalities, and county or municipal officials) for passing or maintaining an ordinance, order, or rule that results in an injury in fact to the licensed person."

They further assert that "The bill's purpose is to provide 'statewide consistency by returning sovereign regulatory powers to the state' where those powers belong in accordance with the Texas Constitution. The bill says unless the state specifically delegated power to a city or county to regulate an industry, any ordinance, order, or rule regulating the licensee's conduct is void and of no effect. If the city or county persists in enforcing the offending regulation, the licensee can sue the city or county to have the ordinance declared void. The affected licensee can also recover its attorney's fees and costs in the suit."

The Texas Tribune recently reported on these sweeping limits on local regulations, asserting in a story: "The bill’s opponents — which include Democrats, local leaders, advocates for low-income workers and environmental groups — see a major power grab in the making that would prevent local officials from responding to their communities’ needs."

Source: Facebook_Southwest Tow Operators; texastribune.org/

Virtual Hearing on Colorado's Towing Regulations

Last year, Colorado overhauled towing rules, passing stringent legislation seeking to protect Coloradans from nonconsensual tows. Many requirements were mandated through the legislation and now state regulators are seeking the public’s feedback on those revisions through a virtual public meeting via Zoom (see link) at 11:30 a.m. on May 30.

Tow companies should weigh in on those changes, as more regulations may be imposed as the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is "intent to update its towing rules to align with the recent statutory changes and expand upon certain operational standards."

The Public Utilities Commission regulates Colorado’s roughly 730 towing companies and deals with rates, scope of operations, insurance, safety, compliance and complaints. The body employs six staffers who investigate around 400 towing complaints each year on average. 

The new law will likely mean the investigations will increase by roughly 15% as a result of new towing regulations and requirements. 

Among other things, the law grants the PUC additional authority to promulgate regulations on non-consensual towing, deny permit applications or permit renewals by towing carriers found to have committed towing-related offenses or acted against the public interest, and adjust permit fees. 

The legislation also establishes new responsibilities for vehicle towing companies and storage facilities, including the following:  

--A company must prominently display the maximum allowable rates that may be charged for towing services at its place of business and on its website 

--Provide adequate lighting and signs in storage facilities 

--Maintain safety and security of towed vehicles 

--Provide evidence of insurance upon request 

--Charge for storage only when it is provided and not charge for storage beyond the first 24 hours before providing a notice to interested parties 

--Provide owners or lienholders an itemized bill upon request 

--Take a photo to document the vehicle's condition and reason for the tow before towing 

--Retain information on non-consensual tows for three years, and provide them upon request 

--Upon a demand by the vehicle's owner, retrieve the contents of a towed vehicle without payment, or allow the owner to retrieve the vehicle after paying 15% of the fees owed — which cannot exceed $60 — and signing a form saying they owe the towing company  

--Release a vehicle that has been hooked up but not yet towed from the property if requested by an authorized or interested person 

--Unless ordered by a police officer, not tow vehicles because of expired vehicle registration 

--Pay lienholders, car owners, and other interested persons the sum of any proceeds from the sale of a vehicle, if the revenue is greater than the charges owed to the towing company 

Source: 9news.com/


PA Senator Highlights Blue Lights Law at Capitol

Senator Doug Mastriano (R), who spearheaded legislation in support of Pennsylvania’s Blue Lights Law, held an event in front of the PA Capitol to highlight the new law and bring awareness to PA’s Slow Down Move Over Laws. He also spoke of introducing new slow down move over signage on highways that would carry the faces and give tribute to fallen towers. 

Mastriano was dressed in a yellow safety vest and surrounded by tow trucks with blue flashing lights alongside other representatives of the industry. 

“Enabling tow truck drivers to use blue lights will protect roadside assistance workers as they help stranded drivers,” Mastriano said. “We want our tow truck drivers to make it home to their families at the end of the day.” 

Mastriano cited studies conducted by the Texas Department of Transportation and University of Michigan which claimed drivers routinely ignored yellow or orange lights. Blue lights elicited a better response from drivers, are more visible in hazardous conditions and give distracted drivers more time to see and react when approaching a potential accident. 

Mastriano in 2020 introduced legislation that was signed into law creating a new point system for Move Over Law violations and doubled fines for a summary offense. 

Mastriano further announced he is planning to introduce new legislation to have signs placed along Pennsylvania state highways and the turnpike to remind drivers to slow down and move over. Each sign also would include a tribute in memory of a Pennsylvania resident who tragically lost their life in a roadside accident. 

Source gettysburgtimes.com

 

Birmingham Alabama to Tackle Predatory Towing 

Birmingham Alabama plans on implementing a new towing ordinance that is currently being drafted to address the public outcry over the challenges of finding parking in downtown Birmingham and aggressive towing practices. 

City leaders, with the support of the Mayor, say they are aware of the problem and are working to eliminate the issue. City Councilor Darrell O’Quinn says the city is planning a public engagement event to discuss the issue on June 7th and invites all parties to the event to discuss their perspectives.  

The Birmingham parking authority is also developing a plan for better parking, stressing they are still gathering feedback and thoughts. 

CEO Andre Davis said, “We are getting a lot of headway with the community. We have had roughly seven or eight community focus meetings with different constituents in the community and from our city leadership team. We are getting a lot of feedback."

City Council President Wardine Alexander also emphasized the council is working to solve the problem.“As result of public inquiry and examples that we have been receiving from residents, Dr. O’Quinn (Transportation Committee), Councilor Tate (Public Safety Committee) and Council Leadership, have been working closely with OCA and had set a public hearing to learn more from residents as we tackle these incidences of predatory towing. We feel our team effort will help us to work towards strengthening our ordinances and protect residents from these unsafe practices and nuisances.” 

Source: wbrc.com/

Tow Truck Bribery Scheme Lands NYPD Officer in Prison 

Michael Perri, a former Queens police officer who owned a tow truck and automobile business, was sentenced to 33 months in prison. He was found guilty of conspiring with two other police officers, James Davneiro and Giancarlo Osma, to steer work to his repair shop.    

Under this illicit arrangement, Davneiro and Osma were instructed to redirect damaged vehicles from car accidents to Perri's establishment, disregarding the established procedures within the NYPD that ensured fair treatment for all towing and automobile businesses involved. The standard procedure, known as the Directed Accident Response Program (DARP), utilizes a computer system to randomly assign an appropriate towing company to the accident scene. 

By sidestepping the DARP system, Davneiro and Osma enabled Perri's business to receive preferential treatment. Perri compensated the two officers with over $50,000 in bribes for their assistance in directing all accident-related business to his establishment. 

Over the course of one year, from May 2020 to May 2021, Davneiro and Osma funneled 73 vehicles damaged in accidents to Perri's business, resulting in profits exceeding $150,000. 

In November 2022, Perri pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to use interstate facilities to commit bribery. 

Apart from the $158,000 he has already forfeited to the government, Perri has been ordered to pay an additional fine of $25,000. 

He’s required to surrender to the federal prison system in 60 days. 

Sources: longisland.com

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May 31 - June 06, 2023

Bridging the Gap: Fire Departments and Tow Companies Working Together 

By George L. Nitti 

Tow operators are faced with all kinds of unexpected scenarios on the roadway, sometimes involving the coordination with local fire departments. 

Chris Navarro, lead rotator operator at Pepe’s Towing of Riverside, California, said, “Recently a car was lodged behind a trailer, the motorist still alive. Using our rotator, we lifted the trailer and then placed a flatbed to clear out the car.” 

Navarro’s expertise due to these kinds of “real world” experiences served as inspiration for a training mock-up held in February 2023 at the Riverside County Fire Department Truck Academy, located at the Van Clark Training Facility. 

At the behest of Riverside fire captain John Phillips, who coordinates the training, Navarro was invited to the academy to provide a heavy-duty recovery scenario involving collaboration with firefighter trainees.  

Phillips said, “The three-week specialty rescue Academy aims to equip firefighters with advanced skills for complex rescue scenarios. Recognizing the need for diverse resources, the department embraced the participation of private tow companies in this training initiative. By including the capabilities of rotators, not only for heavy lifting but also for stabilization and moving of heavy objects, a new level of efficiency and effectiveness was achieved.” 

Navarro emphasized that such hands-on training  promotes on-scene collaboration between different entities. He said, “It puts all of us on the same page, communication and educational wise. It’s an opportunity for one group to learn more about the other group, technically. For example, firefighter trainees may not know the difference between a rotator and a wrecker or understand a rotator’s capability.” 

As part of the exercise, Navarro brought his 2017 Peterbuilt with a Century 1140 and invited another heavy-duty operator from Statewide Towing, who brought his 2022 Peterbuilt Century 1150. Together, the two men helped orchestrate a heavy-duty training scenario involving the extrication and medical service by firefighteres of an injured passenger. 

Phillips said, “By training alongside private tow companies, the fire department gained valuable insights and experience in heavy rescue scenarios. The synergy created by this collaboration allowed for a comprehensive approach to saving lives. The use of rotators for heavy lifting, stabilization, and maneuvering heavy objects proved to be a game changer, enabling quicker and safer extrication of victims in challenging situations.” 

Navarro pointed out that these kinds of recoveries often involve a number of points of analysis and communication: who is in the car; are they injured; are there leaking fluids; are any of the tires flat; what is the weight of the cargo; what kinds of rigs are involved; etc.  

“You want to work quickly to get a victim out, but you need to have a plan. You have to think about what could go wrong. We’re trying to save a life while keeping the rest of us protected.” 

In this case, a 33,000 pound bus, donated to the academy, needed to be lifted off a car, which was donated by Pepe’s to facilitate the extrication and medical service performed by the firefighters. 

“This kind of training is a great opportunity for a gathering of the minds and to brainstorm and plan,” added Navarro. 

Phillips reinforced the value of the training: “Four years ago, the Riverside County Fire Department embarked on a groundbreaking initiative to enhance its heavy rescue capabilities. This involved implementing training programs that fostered collaboration between government agencies and private tow companies. The positive outcomes of this joint effort have been remarkable, with significant strides made in bridging the gap between these two distinct entities. In particular, the involvement of Pepe's Towing, their specialized rotator, and well-trained operator showcased the value of training together in the heavy rescue capacity.” 

Trolley Up

trolleycover 286d4
By George L. Nitti 

Some recoveries are super memorable in the life of a tow operator. One such recovery that stands out for Andrew White, heavy duty rotator specialist for Sterry St. Towing & Recovery of Attleboro, Massachusetts, happened in June of 2020.  

He recalls, “A guy with a medical issue was driving down the street and went through a stop sign, and barreled through a fence, flying into a ravine of the Blackstone River.”  

White estimated that when the man passed through the fencing, he flew about 60 feet airborne as the car plunged 200 feet down the embankment. Thankfully the airbags released and the man survived the accident. 

For White and his tow boss, who were both on scene in Cumberland, Rhode Island, figuring how to get the car back up to the street posed a challenge. White, who enjoys solving difficult recoveries, came up with a novel idea based on a TV show that he enjoys watching called “Ax Men.” 

He said, “Loggers cut down trees on hillsides and bring them up through a cable system.” Based on that concept, White came up with a game plan to employ a similar strategy. 

Although his boss had never seen it done before, White was given the green light, as it was essential to clear up the trafficked road from the perspective of fire and police who were also on scene and given the fact that there was no way to get another tow truck into position to help out with the recovery. 

Positioning his 2021 Peterbuilt 389 Century 1075, White planned on extending the rotator through the trees and then run one line all the way down across the ravine, securing it to an oak tree. Then he pulled a second line down and hooked it to a snatch block.  

He said, “I hooked the snatch block on to the first line and hooked the snatch block and that line to the car directly, which becomes a travelling block at that point.” 

White used the first line as the lift line while the 2nd line with the snatch block reeled the car into to him. In essence, White noted that the snatch block was being used as a trolley.  

He said, “Once the lines were set up, it was pretty easy to real them in."

The recovery took approximately two hours, most of the time spent rigging. 

Then the tow company that initially was dispatched on scene, before turning the job over to Sterry because it was outside their scope of operations, carried the totaled car off on their Peterbuilt 339 with an NRC flatbed.  

“You never know what you’ll pick up watching TV,” said White. “You can use little bits and pieces of what you learn from recoveries and glue them together.” 

Particularly important is that your tow boss on scene approves.  

White said, “The boss said I did an amazing job!” 

Train Wreckage and Mangled Titanium  

coversmall 55952
By George L. Nitti 

It’s a scary scenario when a heavily loaded semi-tractor trailer bottoms out on railroad tracks and gets stuck. It’s even scarier when a train is fast approaching, and the only option is to jump ship. 

Such was the case in February, in Haverstraw, New York, when a tractor trailer loaded with hundreds of titanium rods was hit head on, the tractor smashed, on one side, and the trailer, with the load of titanium rods mangled, bent and strewn in all directions, on the other. 

Fortunately, the driver had gotten out and the train was  spared any casualties. But the recovery made for a super long day for Big Tows Incorporated of Chestnut Ridge, New York. 

Tow operator Dylan Fijor, son of own Ricardo Fijor, informed: “A tractor trailer was in an area he was not supposed to be in and bottomed out on the train tracks. It hasn’t been the first time it’s happened there.” 

Big Tows responded with a small arsenal of equipment, including a couple of heavy duties, several low boys, an excavator, bobcat, and other specialty equipment. 

With their 50-ton Century Rotator on a 2020 389 Peterbuilt, Fijor dragged the tractor out, while Louis Quintana, with the Vulcan Century 50 ton on a 21’ Peterbuilt, winched out the trailer. Then, to clear the mangled titanium from around the tracks, they put an endless loop onto the rods so that “we could get the trains running again,” said Fijor. 

The bigger part of the recovery, however, and the most time consuming, was spent picking up and cutting the bent titanium rods that were 30 to 35 feet long.  

Fijor said, “We had to do a lot of cutting, using specialized blades. Once the titanium was bent, you could not load them on the trailer without them being oversized. They had to be cut. Every single one.” 

This clean-up required an excavator, bobcat and three roll-off containers in which the titanium was loaded, along with a landoll trailer to remove what was left of the trailer, and another low boy to haul the rods that were not destroyed. 

All in all, a job that started around 9 a.m. in the morning did not finish until 1:30 a.m.  

Show Yours @ TIW

Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor George L. Nitti at georgenitti@gmail.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman Magazine!

May 31 - June 06, 2023

The Return to Hands-On Training 

handsontraining f2c9b
By Randall C. Resch   

For California rotation tow companies, owners can choose hands-on training or allow their operators to train online. When Covid wreaked havoc and eliminated live courses due to social distancing, online courses were accepted to meet training requirements by the highway patrol.  

Although online training was allowed as the means to get operators trained, it eliminated the much-needed component for operators to train hands-on. Now that Covid’s deemed over, should training return to hands-on?  

I dislike online operator training for a number of reasons. Let this narrative serve as my opinion that online training doesn’t deliver the same value hands-on training provides.  

The Downside? 

In a disagreement with a west coast tow business owner, we traded opinions as to what program offered best value when it came to tow operator training. While online training has its place in any industry, I’m not so sure online information can meet the stringent capabilities demanded by the tow and recovery industry. We tow and recover with wreckers and carriers, not from a computer screen. 

Especially true to new operators, online training doesn’t prepare newbie towers for real world situations or tactical applications. The lack of hands-on scenarios eliminates an ability to apply techniques not possible through pictures and videos.  

Would you as owner consider the online trained applicant versus an applicant that’s attended a multi-day, hands on training event? Would the newbie tower be able to effectively apply what they’ve learned online? 

Remember, the industry has no set standards like the fire services, NFPA 1500. Many tow companies fail to teach proper tow, transport and recovery techniques while hurrying to get the new driver into a truck.  

So, here’s the rub. The California Highway Patrol’s Tow Service Agreement for rotation towers speaks to its five-year training requirement, Section 8, Tow Truck Drivers, sub-section B., where it states: “Completion and/or documentation of a tow truck driver’s training does not indicate a sufficient level of competence.”  

Let me ask you: Does a heart surgeon become competent by taking an online course? Does a pilot become competent flying aircraft after reading a manual? Does a hand gunner get weapons capable without first practicing (hands-on) the handling of the weapon, breathing through trigger pull, shooting live ammunition, etc.? 

When an autoloader tow operator jumps into a flatbed carrier, does that online course supply “physical skills” to drive a larger vehicle, set-the-deck, operate a larger vehicle in traffic, know tie-down skills, two vehicle loads, etc.?  

During live action courses, attendees work together to foster teamwork skills. Hands-on learning improves cognitive understanding of subject material and social skills. Through group activities, attendees learn how to visually and physically determine best practice solutions, develop leadership skills and how to delegate while working together as a team. 

To the LE community, the lack of hands-on training may lead to increased time on-scene. This relates to extended times at tow and recovery events while increasing the potential of secondary crashes. An increase in additional time on scene is directly related to officer and motorist safety.  

For agencies allowing online training only, competency and on-scene abilities are proved by operator competence, not necessarily to one’s level of experience. Learning hands on helps to develop a feeling of confidence; improve critical thinking; understand the tow & recovery industry is incredibly dangerous; demands confidence and competence; practice “simulated actual events” in a safe, supervised environment where attendees learn from mistakes; provides an environment for practicing skills other than keyboard observation 

Selected Training 

While there’s many ways to work a rollover incident on a busy highway, winching, rigging, snatch block use and tow vehicle positioning might easily be watched on an online presentation, but nothing replaces ability when hands-on technique and application is key to success. 

I salute tow owners who choose hands-on training over online training. Convenience and travel costs shouldn’t be determining factors for selecting training that stimulates, motivates and excites the senses.  

Owners, when getting the most bang for your buck, a conscious decision is at the forefront of what training you choose for your operators. I believe towers (of all levels) should return to training every five-years for an update in industry changes, new laws and a chance to undo those bad habits.      

Operations Editor  Randall C. Resch is a retired California police officer and veteran tow business owner, manager, consultant and trainer. For 51-years, he has been involved in the towing and recovery industry. In 25-years, he has contributed more than 625-articles for American Towman Magazine and TowIndustryWeek.com. He was inducted to the International Towing and Recovery Industry Hall of Fame and was the 3rd recipient of the industry's "Dave Jones Leadership Award." Email Randy at rreschran@gmail.com 

When the Scales of Justice are Broken 

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By Brian J Riker 

I write often about regulatory compliance or industry standard practices. Unfortunately, even when you are doing things correctly you can still wind up in trouble. That said, being safe and compliant with all your ducks in a row is critical not only to your safety but to be in a defensible position in the event of a serious incident resulting in a lawsuit. 

Even then, it may not be enough; however it will help. Non-compliance equates to negligence in the eyes of trial lawyers and juries, and negligence adds zeros to the end of an otherwise reasonable jury award or settlement. 

This has never been more apparent than in a recent decision from the 14th Court of Appeals in Texas to uphold a lower courts jury verdict of over $100 million in a truck involved crash that occurred in 2014 in Texas. This case represents the failure of our judicial system in the U.S. A trucking company and their driver, who did not cause this tragic crash in any manner, have been found mostly liable and the original jury award of nearly $100 million upheld. 

The trucking company is responsible for more than $92 million while the truck driver is on the hook for $13 million, meaning every dime he ever earns in the future will be subject to seizure to satisfy this judgement -for something he shouldn't be responsible for! 

Key facts: the truck driver was traveling the opposite direction and did not lose control, immediately took appropriate action when he spotted the Plaintiff’s vehicle coming across the median of the interstate; the operator of the Plaintiff’s vehicle did not have a valid driver’s license. While Eastbound I-20 was ice covered and slick, the Westbound side, which is where the truck driver was travelling, was not icy due to heavier traffic volumes resulting in a melting of the ice on the road surface. 

The jury found, incorrectly, that the truck driver should have known better than to be on an icy highway and had he stopped at a truck stop earlier he wouldn't have been there for the Plaintiff to crash into. This was the principal reason for the negligence found on the part of the truck driver and trucking company, Werner Enterprises: failure to take reasonable precautions to prevent injury. 

Why was the truck driver negligent in his actions? He was safely navigating his truck, below the speed limit, and did not crash into anything traveling the same direction on his side of the divided highway, a highway that was not as slick and dangerous as the direction the injured party was travelling! 

This is nonsense; the truck driver is a trained professional that did not lose control of their vehicle and it is not reasonable to expect a vehicle to cross the median and be prepared to stop at highway speeds, regardless if icy or slippery conditions are present or not. Further, it is reasonable to expect a professional driver, fully licensed CDL holder, to engage in their occupation when the roadway is open to travel and traffic is flowing. The driver exercised due caution in travelling at a reduced speed. 

How about the State of Texas taking some fault for failing to close the interstate, failure to maintain it free of icy and for poor design by failing to have a cable barrier in the median to prevent crossover? It is a proven fact that cable barriers and/or earthen berms are a cost-effective means to prevent these types of tragedies; however they are not deployed effectively in many locations, such as this one. If conditions were truly this unsafe why didn’t TXDOT close the highway? 

How about the driver of the pickup truck that crossed the median and struck the tractor trailer? The driver was unlicensed and travelling at an estimated 50-60 MPH when he lost control of the vehicle. Where is his liability in failing to exercise due care or to act reasonable? Is it reasonable for an unlicensed, untrained, inexperienced person to attempt to drive on ice while being unreasonable for a trained professional to do the same? 

This verdict, both the initial one and the appeal, represent a huge failure of the judicial system, due process and a colossal failure of the appeals process. A reasonable and prudent person would not expect any driver to be able to avoid a vehicle suddenly appearing across a median divider on an interstate highway system. 

It is way past time for judicial reform and reasonable tort limits to be placed on these types of cases to restrict unscrupulous trial lawyers from plying their deceptive trade practices upon hardworking men and women in vocational trades. 

It also highlights the failure of many state Department of Transportation officials to take median crossover incidents seriously across our nation. 

Is Vehicle Ownership No Longer a Responsibility?   

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By Randall C. Resch 

If your company tows for law enforcement, you might be wondering why impounds are a bit on the slow side? Maybe it’s a California thing where not paying for past citations and vehicle registrations is now a laughable reality. 

To own, operate and drive a motor vehicle on public right-of-way and state highways is a privilege, not a given right. To not have to pay for annual registration or parking citations is an immunity that is granted or available only to particular people and groups. But paying for citations and registration is now thought of as a hardship. 

In recent years, city and state politicians “representing certain groups or people” support and have revised laws that extend additional courtesy to vehicle owners who claim they can’t afford registration or pay past citations. 

A City of San Diego (CA) councilmember told local news (he) was in full support to allow the city’s low-income populous not be required to pay for registration and parking tickets.  

It was the councilmember’s recommendation to disregard paying registration while allowing no re-payments of parking citations “in excess of five” if an individual claimed a low-income status.  

Tell me if I’m wrong or not. If you own a vehicle and drive on the public right-of-way, there are responsibilities to vehicle ownership, correct? One would think so, but what has been the norm is fading. 

License & Registration Please 

Motorists get stopped by law enforcement for traffic infractions in which cars are missing license plates, or license plates display registration stickers that have expired far beyond six-months; all violating the law. In day-to-day police work, a vehicle’s license plate bearing expired registration is probable cause to make a lawful stop.  

It’s during traffic stops when we learn a vehicle may owe for traffic citations, and whether its driver is driving under a suspended license, or has no license, or has valid warrants. These folks oftentimes use the “destitute card” to not keep registration and insurance current. 

Although enforcement stops (like these) are thought of as harassment, not having valid registration is an obligation of operating a motor vehicle. It includes requiring its driver to have current insurance and a valid driver’s license.  

When these “requirements” were not met, it used to be that vehicles were towed per vehicle code law, especially when licenses were suspended, and registration was “past due over six-months.”   

If you’re involved in the tow and recovery industry, either as a citizen (and vehicle owner) paying your registration, let this narrative pique your interest and help you understand how this mentality helps to deplete city operations and administrations.      

  

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May 31 - June 06, 2023

Wrecker's Wrap Shines Like Gold and Brings Harmony

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By George L. Nitti 

As we all know, new tow trucks can be hard to find. But with patience and the right distributor, one can be had. Perhaps that sentiment sums up Chuck Guillory’s recent acquisition of his new, colorfully wrapped 23’ Hino, with a 21 ft. Century flatbed. 

He said, “We just put it in service. I had been looking for a truck for over a year. I wanted one long enough without having to stretch the frame so I could put a side puller on it. That was the truck available. Didn’t want a 19 ft or 21 ½.” 

This time round, Guillory turned to a local dealership, RPM Equipment, located in Houston, about 80 miles from Chuck’s Wrecker Service with its home base of Beaumont, Texas. 

“It’s a big refinery city,” Guillory said. “It’s the second busiest port in the country. A lot of military transport. We’ll transport some of the lighter military stuff, which the beds may be used for.” 

To commemorate 44 years in business, Guillory marked this new unit #44 just in front and above their doors. “I was 19 years old when I started in 1979. The first truck I ever bought was a Holmes 480. I also bought that unit from RPM.” 

A sweet reunion indeed!  

Guillory bought the truck for his son Doran’s use, who picked up the design from a website. They then used a local designer nearby to implement the wrap.

“He’s happy with it. I’m happy with it. So we are all happy.” 

The truck was originally all white before it was wrapped with an orange starburst with hues of blue and gray. The design is distinguished by its curves and swirls, in a wavelike fashion creating harmony. 

“It’s the only one like that in our fleet,” he said. “When the sun hits it, it looks gold. I love the design. It gets a lot of compliments on Facebook. People think it’s topknotch,” said Guillory. 

Along the bed’s side sits a string of chains with the company phone number easy to read while the nifty controls on the bed stand out for their color. “It’s all wireless, including the sidepuller,” said Guillory. 

Now that they’ve got the equipment they want and have wrapped their baby, Doran can do what he loves best: pick up those recoveries.

Brag @ TIW!  

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

Dedicated to Mom 

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By George L. Nitti 

Over the years, Payne’s Towing & Recovery of Ruckersville, Virginia, has dedicated their tow trucks to the memory of Amy Payne, who passed away in 2007 of breast cancer. She was only 32 years of age. Her two sons, Kevin and Mikey, were kids at the time of her passing, and grew up alongside their father in the towing industry, both becoming rotator operators. 

As homage to their mother, the graphics on the company tow trucks include multiple breast cancer ribbons dedicated to her memory, with the units standing out as a labor of love.  

“My father came up with the design in 06’/07’,” said Kevin Payne, who runs their 2021 W900B with a 1050 Century Rotator. His brother Mikey operates their 2021 Twin Steer W900B Kenworth with a 1075 Century Rotator. That truck was entered at the Wrecker Pageant at the American Towman Exposition in Baltimore in 2021 and won Best in the Rotator Class.   

Both rotators are recognized for their masterful detail and composition, almost identical in terms of the graphics. On the hood of each is a pink breast cancer ribbon that takes prominence with scripted words in yellow that state: “We Love You Mom,” with the names “Mikey and Kevin” laid squarely across the ribbon. 

Several contrasting graphic elements stand out on these rotators, working together against their black backgrounds to provide texture, contrast and dimensionality. One image is the silver metal plates that run up from the Kenworth chassis and extend onto the body of the rotators, guided by a thick orange, slanted line partially in the shape of a tribal flame, giving the design a contemporary/modern quality and providing just the perfect mix of contrast. 

In the center of the rotator, on both sides, adding dimension and interest, is Tow Mater from the movie Cars. 

“It was something that I liked when I was younger and we’ve just kind of stuck with it,” said Kevin. “My Dad decided to put it on the side of the truck.” 

On the boom of the rotator, the company name pops out, accentuated by a yellow stripe underneath it and excellent shadow work on the lettering, giving further pop. 

Kevin said, “We did all of the paint work on the whole truck right here in our shop.  Everything gets painted in house. We also do the stainless steel.”  

Leaving no stone unturned, the under lift of the unit includes exquisite detail, the Payne name in a bright orange against stainless steel with purple painted outriggers and extra large hooks. 

Helping to bring everything together is the hand painted colored pinstriping, in hues of orange and purple, around the unit and ribbons for mom representative of the kind of mastery that would make mom proud, especially of her two sons, Mikey and Kevin. 

Keeping a Good Thing Going 

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By George L. Nitti 

Sometimes new ownership entails a shakeup in operations. But then again, a new owner may opt for a more hands off approach, working hard to keep things running smoothly while identifying those things to grow.  

For Matthew Saskin, the new owner of East Coast Towing, located in Raleigh, North Carolina, the latter was the case. He purchased East Coast, with a fleet of approximately 30 wreckers, in December of 2022, and has sought growth without a major shakeup in operations. 

One area that he has sought to maintain are their tow truck graphics. At the time of acquisition, East Coast had already been in the process of transitioning from a pink design to a modernized blue and yellow design, which has been ongoing over the last three years. 

“I personally really like the design. The feedback from drivers, the community, and everyone is that they really like it too. It’s eye catching,” said Saskin. “We may as well continue it because there is no reason to change it.” 

Furnishing 30 trucks with new graphics, however, is a big hit on the bottom line, requiring the company to pay not only for the expense of wrapping the trucks, but paying for the time the truck sits idle. Thus far the company has transitioned seven of their trucks from the old pink design to their newer “camoflaged” one. 

“We will standardize the rest of our fleet as time and budget permit,” added Saskin. 

Recently their acquisition of a 2023 Peterbuilt 337 Jerr-Dan flatbed was wrapped, exemplifying the direction they are headed in terms of promoting a consistent brand. 

Wrapped in a blue and white camouflaged pattern all over the Peterbuilt chassis, the unit stands out rather than disappears. Perhaps because there is nowhere to hide on the open road, and trying to hide behind a design just makes you stand out even more. 

This particular unit has an even and balanced composition along with artistic flourishes, like the broken and scratched lines within the blue and yellow color schematic, adding contour and nuance to the camouflaged pattern.” 

Saskin said, “It’s fairly distinctive compared to our competitors.” 

With a fleet composed of 97% Jerr-Dan units, Saskin says “It makes it a lot easier to have consistency across the board in terms of maintenance as well. We want to keep things running smoothly and identify things to grow.” 


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May 31 - June 06, 2023

Spliced Eye Synthetic Recovery Slings

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This synthetic rope sling is designed slimmer yet has a higher WLL. The RimSling has a protective Cordura Sleeve over the entire sling giving it maximum protection. Also, it has a special braid guard at the center of the sling providing extended life. A 6" sling eye is located on either end of the sling. 

Zip's Tip: Tie a zip-tie on the eye of the sling to help feed the rope through the aluminum wheel holes!

--Slimmer synthetic rope maintains higher WLL
--Protective cordura sleeve over entire sling
--Special braid guard at the center of sling for extended life
--6" sling eyes
--USA made
--5:1 Safety Factor
--Rated for Overhead Lifting
--Available Colors: Purple (Standard), Red, Orange, Safety Green, Military Green, Yellow, Blue, Light Blue, Black, Gray, Pink

For more information and weight capabilities,zips.com

Steering Wheel Lock with Claw Hooks

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Prevent the front wheels of a towed vehicle from turning while towing from the rear with this steering wheel lock from BA Products. The strap is equipped with two coated claw hooks to latch onto the steering wheel and the brake pedal. A cam or ratchet buckle cinches the two ends tight.

  • 2" Cam or Ratchet Buckle
  • 1-3/4"W yellow straps
  • Coated claw locks
For more information, visit zips.com

Orange Reflective Traffic Cone

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JBC Revolution Series Cones are the leader in the traffic safety industry. Revolution Series Cones are made from an innovative injection molded design that holds up in all temperatures and maintains color in difficult UV situations. Indented handles at the top allow the cones to easily be picked up and stacked. The black bases are made entirely from recycled materials and are marked with a unique dotted pattern. Spot the dots to know it s JBC!

--Base stays attached to the body, even after being run over by a car
--Non-stick area makes stacked cones easier to separate
--Heavy, 100% recycled black base provides stability
--Engineered to meet MUTCD specifications
--Ultraviolet stabilized color provides maximum resistance to fading
--Recessed Style Cones have an indented area that helps protect the body when stacked
--Size: 28" or 36"
--Base Weight: 28" - 7 lbs, 28" - 10 lbs, 36" - 10 lbs, 36" - 12 lbs, 36" - 15 lbs
--Color: Orange
--Collar: 6" reflective stripe

For more info: zips.com
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May 31 - June 06, 2023
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May 31 - June 06, 2023
Jordan McIntosh of Rapture Enterprises, Inc. saw a record setting January in repossessions and anticipates a torrid summer.

Repo Business Booming 

According to a recent report on rising delinquencies on subprime auto loans, the repossession industry is continuing to benefit, seeing a banner year as repos have continued to rise since the peak of the Pandemic in 2021. In March, the percentage of delinquent subprime auto loans increased to 5.3 percent, up from 2.6 percent two years ago. Various factors are at play, including rising interest rates, higher prices for used and new cars, and inflation pinching consumers across the board.

At the recent North American Reposessors Summit conference in Orlando, Florida, it was reported that repo companies are having a hard time keeping up with demand and finding drivers. “As the economy curves down, our industry curves up,” said Ben Deese, vice president at North Carolina-based Home Detective Co. The $1.7 billion industry primarily recovers assets like cars, trucks, and boats, all requiring skilled tow truck drivers.    

Speaking to this point with TIW, Jordan McIntosh of Rapture Enterprises of Burnsville, North Carolina, who services the Appalachian region covering several states, spoke of his current need for more drivers, noting that during the Pandemic a lower demand caused some of his agents to opt for unemployment benefits.  

He said, “We lost a lot of good agents, but fortunately had some good guys who saw the need to keep our company open. That’s what got us through until the volume started coming back. In January of 23’ we broke our record for the numbers of vehicles we picked up.” 

Anticipating this summer’s volume, McIntosh has bought five late model trucks in the last year and has been adding drivers "pretty much consistently." He said, “I’ve got seven drivers now, but to be honest with you, I could use seven more.” 

Source: Bloombergmotor1.com and Tow Industry Week

Car Loan Delinquencies on the Rise 

Car loan delinquencies have been rising. Key factors include termination of loan relief programs post pandemic, rising inflation, higher interest rates, and higher used and new car prices, which have resulted in extended payments on car loans. According to Cox Automotive, the average cost of a new car reached $47,148 as of May 2022. This is a 13.5% increase from the average cost only one year ago, in May 2021.  

According to TransUnion data, 4.35% of car owners ages 18 to 40 were at least 60 days late on their auto loans in early 2022. In 2019, before the pandemic began, Gen Z had a past-due rate of 1.75%. Today, past-due rates have reached as high as 2.21% among Gen Z car owners. Similarly, millennials now show increased past-due rates of 2.14%, compared with 1.66% before the pandemic. 

The percentage of subprime auto borrowers who are at least 60 days past due on payments rose to 5.67% in December from a seven-year low of 2.58% in April 2021. That compares with the peak of 5.04% in January 2009 during the financial crisis. 

Higher interest rates make it harder for Americans who borrow to buy cars to make monthly payments. The average new-car loan rate was 8.02% in December, up from 5.15% in the same period in 2021, according to Cox Automotive. Interest rates for subprime borrowers can be much higher, with some even paying over 25% on their car loans. 

Source: breakinglatest.news

Car Repos Rising 

Car repossessions continue to rise, as consumers fall behind on their car payments due to higher car prices and prolonged inflation, according to a report by NBC News. Loan defaults now exceed where they were in 2019, pre-pandemic. Economists are predicting 2023 to continue that trend, with increasing unemployment, high inflation and dwindling household savings. 

The average monthly payment for a new car is up 26% since 2019 to $718, with nearly one in six new car buyers spending more than $1000 a month on vehicles.  

“These repossessions are occurring on people who could afford that $500 or $600 a month payment two years ago, but now everything else in their life is more expensive,” said Ivan Drury, director of insights at car buying website Edmunds. “That’s where we’re starting to see the repossessions happen because it’s just everything else starting to pin you down.” 

Consequently, the repo business is having a hard time keeping up, as 30% of repo firms left the business when repo rates plummeted in 2020. Jeremy Cross, the president of International Recovery Systems in Pennsylvania, said he can’t find enough repo men to meet the demand. He said lenders are paying him premiums to repossess their cars first in anticipation of a continued increase in loan defaults.  

Source: nbcnews.com

2022 Winners of the RABF Dynamic Slide  

Ana Favela and her husband of Lalo’s Towing in Illinois are the winners of the Dynamic Slide in Unit, which was donated by Anthony Gentile and Dynamic Towing Equipment and Manufacturing. The drawing took place at the American Towman Exposition in Baltimore, Nov. 16 – 19, and benefits the Recovery Agents Benefit Fund. 

Ana and her husband entered the drawing after purchasing two raffle tickets on November 19. They purchased two more tickets and ended up having the winning ticket drawn by a young volunteer. Ana said, “I’m happy to support the work of the Recovery Agents Benefit Fund and excited to win this year’s raffle!” 

The Recovery Agents Benefit Fund has disbursed over $44,000 in 2022 to nine families and over $685,000 to date. The unit is valued at over $10,000 and raises thousands of dollars annually, helping families affected by the dangers of the repossession industry and their unfortunate circumstances that can devastate a family.

For more information about donating to the fund, visit www.recoveryagentsbenefitfund.org, contact 703-365-0409, or email at donations@recoveryagentsbenefitfund.org. 

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