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The Week's Features
The death of Ohio Tower Glenn Ewing has reverberated around the country with a call to pay attention and move over.
Same place, similar circumstance on a different day defines DeFalco’s eerily familiar recovery.
Getting high on the dangers of towing is like throwing common sense to the wind.
Oklahoma tow company with an appealing logo that is a cross between Western and Modern sensibilities.
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing July 19 - July 26, 2021


Click here to read more

Record Wrecker Pageant in San Antonio 

The largest wrecker pageant in San Antonio – TowXpo History will take place at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center on August 5 – 7, 2021.  

The pageant, a spectacle of the world’s finest wreckers, is a great experience involving pageant contestants who will vie for the Cup in several weight class: light duty (pre-2020), light duty (2020-21), medium duty, vintage (41 + years), service/ support truck, HD Single Axle, HD Tandem, Rotator and Carrier.   

Competition will also include a “Best In Show” winner as voted by Expo participants. Each person will receive a voting ballot at registration and are welcome to review all the trucks in the pageant area then cast their vote for the top choice at the Voting Booth.  

30 Trucks are currently registered and as many as 40 trucks are expected by show time.  

According to San Antonio TowXpo show manager Tommy Anderson, “The numbers look good. We are glad to see people getting out after being locked up over the last year."

For more information about the Pageant and registration requirements, go to https://towxpo.com/#pageant-page



Two of the Winning Wreckers from the Texas Tow Pageant in 2019.

Why Take Chances? 

Taking Chances Pic 2a837
By Randall C. Resch   

Let’s talk common sense, shall we? Some towers have it … some don’t. Towers openly comment what they think about highway safety where I see a mental disconnect between highway safety versus risk and on-the-job dangers.  

A seasoned tower commented: "I guess the whole flirting with danger is part of the job I like best." When new towers read a comment like this, how do they develop a sense of “reality” toward safety and operator survival?  

Although towing and recovery is exciting, it’s far different than working nine-to-five at Office Depot, and so are the inherent risks.  

When Ernest Holmes rolled-out his first wrecker a hundred plus years ago, do you think wrecker operators (then) were concerned about high-speed highways and industry dangers?  

My guess is “No.” Back then there was no concept that operator safety would become a major industry factor. Fast forward to present day; the industry has become a slaughterhouse for tow operators. 

Having been struck by a motorist on a CHP recovery, I've spent much of my career teaching operator safety. From my experience, I've learned that "Pain is a powerful motivator," and that flirting with an untimely demise is backwards thinking.  

Towers complain that a big percentage of today’s motorists don’t know move-over laws exist, yet most states have had move-over laws for years. California’s SDMO law, written in 2007, is a sad reality that confirms SDMO laws don’t work.  

Since 1997, tow operator fatalities have seen a dramatic rise in operator deaths. In 2011, the onset of modernized cellphones and DUI related incidents saw an explosion of highway-related distracted driving crashes accounting for substantial increases in operator fatalities. 

Because we towers are men and women of action, perhaps it’s our DNA that bestowed us misguided superpowers? I’m personally not capable of jumping out of the way of an at-speed vehicle nor are you.  

Maybe I'm just another old fool who should mind my own business, but I believe towers should be a might fearful as to their own survival every time they go boots to the ground.

There are towers that claim they were hit, or almost hit, working the white-line side and openly brag about it. That marginal "brush with death" was heaven’s grace sending a wakeup message to get off the white-line.  

Another tower said to me (with excitement) "I get a rush loading cars on the fast lane’s shoulder, especially when their flyin’ by two-feet away causing my pant legs to rustle in the wind." To that I’ll say … I'm afraid for you.  

So, if we’re supposed to be keepers’ of our own destinies, which side are you on? It takes a phenomenal safety mindset to survive the rigors and risks of our work. Towers’ should understand this industry is inherently dangerous. In that, my work has made it clear that, in this industry, there's more macho than there is common sense.   

 
 

On The Hook 10: New Stuff

By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


I work the non-traffic side of the wrecker/carrier:
seldom
maybe 30% of the breakdowns
half of the time
most of the time
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Managing Editor: Steve Calitri
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
July 19 - July 26, 2021
Tower's Truck was set ablaze in Vallejo, Ca., from apparent arson.

Tow Truck Set Ablaze

Tower Clarence Martin, who claimed to be on a mission to pick up scraped cars off the streets of Vallejo, Ca., was the victim of arson on July 18, when 6 cars on his property, including his tow truck, were razed.  

“Someone came to my store and burned all my heavy equipment,” Martin said, including his bread and butter: the 2011 Lamb 5500 Super, which he saved five years to buy."

Martin learned of the incident when a park ranger knocked on the front door of his house six blocks away at about 6:30 a.m. The ranger rescued his German Shepherd from the property.  

He said, “The police immediately appeared and took my dog out, and the fire department appeared and put out the fire. It could have been worse.” 

Martin was in the towing business for 14 years on an “old shabby” truck in 1974. He said he saved and paid $ 40,000 for the destroyed truck. 

He said four Vallejo towing companies were closed last year, “leaving more scrapped cars in our city.” 

“In hopes of community support, Martin launched the GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $ 75,000.  

https://www.timesheraldonline.com/2021/07/19/tow-truck-operator-burned-by-presumed-arson-in-vallejo/ 

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July 19 - July 26, 2021
A Mounted Attenuator that was hit in Delaware serves to remind the public to pay attention and move over.

Tower’s Death Spurs Call to Pay Attention 

The death of a AAA tow truck driver in Ohio who was hit on the Fourth of July has transportation leaders in Delaware, and across the country, pleading with drivers to pay attention to what they're doing and move over. 

32-year Glenn Ewing was loading a disabled vehicle onto the back of a flatbed in Cincinnati when he was hit.  

AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Ken Grant said all fifty states have Move Over laws, and they're not just for emergency vehicles. 

"Realize that there could be somebody outside their vehicle trying to get work done, whether it's changing a tire, waiting for a tow truck, whatever, and they need to slow down and move over," said Grant. 

Grant said in Delaware this year there have been several reminders of how dangerous it is for vehicles on the side of the road with truck mounted attenuators (TMAs) at work zones being a common target.

"They basically act as an extended crumple zone so if someone's not paying attention they don't just crash into the back of a truck and potentially harm the driver," said Grant. 

"With traffic volumes returning to pre-pandemic levels, we need everyone to take extra care behind the wheel to prevent avoidable tragedies," said Secretary of Transportation Nicole Majeski.  

"When one of our colleagues is lost, we’re all affected," said Eric Creek, Roadside Assistance Supervisor for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Delaware.  

https://www.wdel.com/

Pa. Man Charged with Burglarizing Two Tow Companies 

A Pa. man, Ryan J. Darrup, who was charged with burglarizing two tow businesses and stealing police evidence from his own impounded vehicle, had additional charges filed against him on 7/26.  

Darrup was charged with 3 counts: firearms not to be carried without a license, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  

According to arrest papers, Darrup possessed a 9mm handgun, cannabis vape and edible products and varied paraphernalia. The items were inside Darrup's 2012 Ford Fusion and two backpacks that were later recovered after they were stolen from inside the impound lot, according to police. 

Darrup allegedly broke into two tow businesses overnight in the early morning hours of July 16 and was taken into custody at about 8:30 p.m.  

https://www.yahoo.com/ 

Tow Procession in Oregon Honors Slain Tower

Dozens of tow truck drivers gathered in Hillsboro, Or., on the morning of 7/17 for the Enough is Enough tow truck procession to remember fallen tow truck driver Patrick Sanford, who died a month ago when he was shot and killed while on a towing job at the Park Creek Village Apartments.  

“It was a senseless way to go. That gentleman was just doing his job.” said Jean Underwood of Beaverton Towing. 

Sanford was moving vehicles from the apartment complex parking lot for a maintenance project lot when he was confronted by a resident and shot and killed.  

42-year-old Mathew McAdoo has been charged with second degree murder. 

“I think today is amazing. It’s a wonderful statement about Patrick and the horrible thing that happed to Patrick,” said Sanford’s sister Erin Fitzgerald as the procession started.  

Their hope is that people they encounter on the job show more patience and kindness, even when the reason for the tow is disputed. 

https://www.kgw.com/ 

Unidentified Tower in Right Place at Right Time 

A tow truck driver exiting a parking garage in Southern Los Angeles happened to be in the right place at the right time when he intercepted a dangerous high-speed chase taking place between California Highway Patrol and the driver of a white vehicle that refused to stop. 

For 40 minutes, the car was chased by LAPD when the tow truck became just the blockade needed to stop a chase that had reached speeds of 70 miles per hour.  

“It’s not like I wanted to stop him or anything like that. I was trying to move out of the way,” the tow truck driver explained. The unidentified driver said he was pulling over to the left when the white car hit him. 

The LAPD thanked the tow truck driver, who said he was just glad no one got seriously hurt. 

https://www.insideedition.com

Tow Goes Awry

A car that was towed apparently without authorization from a used car dealership in SC on June 6 was mysteriously found engulfed in flames eleven days later. 

A representative from KT Towing and Recovery of Ladson, SC said they received a call to pick up a car and drop it off somewhere, indicating the man who called told the company that he had pushed the car onto the car lot. The representative said the driver was new and should have picked up on the suspicious circumstances. However, he says law enforcement investigated the driver and did not find him to be colluding with the person who called for the tow. 

The sales manager of the dealership, Eric Duncan said they use towing services all the time and there’s generally some kind of check to make sure the person ordering the tow owns the car. Several other tow truck companies said they don’t necessarily require proof of ownership but do occasionally get suspicious calls and look for red flags before agreeing to a tow. 

The 2004 Red Pontiac GTO sits back at the dealership with its red leather interior burned up and its custom engine and transmission gone. “It was a beautiful machine. A very beautiful piece of automotive history,” said Duncan. 

https://www.live5news.com/

Tower Fatality Strengthens Move Over Advocacy  

The tragic death of AAA tow truck driver Glenn Ewing in Ohio highlights the risks faced by emergency first responders in Maryland and around the country, and continues to reverberate through Move Over advocacy. Ewing was killed on July 4 while placing a disabled vehicle on the back of a flatbed on the side of the road. 

“When one of our colleagues is lost, we’re all affected,” said Garland Amaker, Supervisor, AAA Fleet – Baltimore. “Glenn died while helping a driver on the side of the road – it can happen to any one of us.” 

“We can’t stress enough how important it is that drivers move over and change lanes when they see AAA or any other first responder working in and around traffic,” Amaker added. “By doing so, you are also potentially saving someone’s life.” 

AAA and its traffic safety partners will strengthen advocacy and community awareness throughout the year, including ‘National Move Over Day,” which occurs the third Saturday in October every year. 

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July 19 - July 26, 2021

Deja Vu  

defalcos5 16e06
By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti 

Deja Vu all over again...On June 16, New Jersey State Police called DeFalco’s to handle another rolled over tractor-trailer, this time Eastbound at Mile Marker 10 in Springfield, NJ. 

Adam Rempfer stated, “We had the same manpower and equipment and basically did the same procedure on this job as with the one the week before. We set up to separate the box from the chassis. This one was loaded with 56,000-pounds of cat food on pallets.” 

Adam, who supervised the operation, responded in his 2021 while his brother Billy Rempfer Jr., went out in his medium-duty 2016 Kenworth T370 with a NRC 20-ton slider. Ryan Condit was dispatched in one of Defalco’s twin NRC 50s, their 2021 Kenworth T800 with a NRC 50-ton CSR (Composite Sliding Rotator). Operator Rolondo Ramirez was in the other twin, also a 2021 Kenworth T800 with a NRC 50-ton CSR. Operator Hector Ramirez was in a 1994 International Incident Response Truck with light tower and Hazmat clean up equipment. Operator Marcus Hayes was in a 2021 International Flatbed with 22-foot Chevron bed to remove debris from scene. 

The tractor and trailer were rolled over laying on its side in the grass on the side of the roadway near the overpass. The twin NRC 50s staged on the road alongside the casualty. Adam said, “Rigging rim slings to the casualties wheels we split the box from the chassis and winched the tractor over using auxiliary winches with 1/2-inch grade 100 chain wrapped around the frame, hooked to the main winches of one of the NRC 50s for the catch line.” 

Patrick Sisbarro, from Sisbarro Towing, was called in once again with his low boy trailer. Once the chassis was separated from the box the smashed up tractor, with chassis attached, was hauled away. The box was still on its side in the grass. They rigged it using 1/2 grade 100 foundry hooks and winched it off the grass onto the roadway to get it into position for lifting onto Sisbarro’s trailer. 

The NRC 50s were still on the road alongside the box. With one up front of the box and the other at the rear, the crew re-positioned the hooks on the loaded box for the next lift. Patrick positioned his trailer in front of the box and the 50s lifted and set the box gently down and it was secured for transport. 

Another wreck cleared from Route 24 thanks to the equipment, experience and teamwork of these two Jersey tow companies. 

…....................... 

William "Bill" R. Rempfer Sr. and his wife Cheryl opened DeFalco's Automotive and Towing in Chatham, NJ in 1994. Today, Cheryl and sons, William “Bill” Jr. and Adam carry on the family owned and operated business that has grown into New Jersey’s premier independent repair shop and AAA Towing and Emergency Roadside Service provider. With their extensive fleet and highly trained and experienced operators, DeFalco’s is prepared and equipped to handle any heavy-duty towing and recovery situation. 

Sisbarro Towing is a family owned and operated full-service towing, recovery, and repair business located in Union, NJ. Patrick Sisbarro founded his company in 2003 with one truck. It has grown to be one of largest and most reliable towing companies in Union County with over 15 pieces of equipment, ranging from light-duty wreckers and flatbeds to their NRC 50-ton Sliding Rotator.  

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! 

 
 

Off-Ramp Recovery  

offramp4 d8058
By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti 

On July 14, 2021, at approximately 11 a.m., Certified Auto Mall Inc. was called by the NJ State Police for an overturned tractor-trailer. The incident happened on the I-195 Eastbound off-ramp onto County Route 547 in Howell, NJ. 

Certified Auto Mall dispatched their VP Michael “Mike” Stahnten in their 2019 Kenworth 880 with a Century 1150 50-ton rotator and heavy-duty operator Richard “Rich” Archer in their Peterbilt 2019 with a Century 1135 35-ton rotator. 

When the Certified recovery team arrived, the tractor-trailer was on its side. Rich informed, “The trailer was loaded with a non-hazardous chemical compound, a dry powder. It was packed in boxes stacked two pallets tall in two rows.” 

The team decided to deal with the tractor first. The Century 1150 was staged at the nose of the casualty and the Century 1135 was staged at the rear. Rich explained, “We first separated the tractor from the trailer because it was on the off-ramp and we needed more room.” 

Once back on its wheels, the tractor was loaded onto Certified’s 40TB NRC carrier which was operated by Kevin Lang. It was secured and removed from the scene. With the tractor out of the way, the team had room to upright the loaded trailer. Rich informed, “We went to work on the trailer, which was approximately 45,000-pounds, with the 1150 and 1135 both rigged with two parted lines.” 

With the Century 1150 still in position upfront of the trailer and the Century 1135 at the rear, the team rigged the lines with snatch blocks to blue shackles and master links attached to the trailers roof corner eyelets. 

Steel shipping containers like this one are designed to carry their weight in the corner posts, which makes stacking them easier. These shipping containers are designed to bear loads on their corner posts, which also have corner casting eyelets on the front and rear headers for lifting. 

Working in tanden, Mike at the helm of the 1150 and Rich the controls of the 1135, they uprighted the container. Once the unit was uprighted, the 1135 lifted it so it could be mounted to the fifth wheel of Certified’s Kenworth tractor. It was delivered to the customers warehouse to be unloaded. 

….......................... 

Certified Auto Mall Inc., based in Howell, NJ, is a family owned and operated business which has been providing service across the Tri-State area, including the Central New Jersey area for over 20 years. They have wide experience in local/long distance towing, as well as light-/heavy-duty towing services, including police recovery and a highly trained HAZMAT team. They are an official police tower for Howell Township Police Department and the NJ State Police.  
 

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! 

Pumped, Bagged & Lifted 

Pumped Bagged Lifted TIW 2 cbf76
By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti 

The PA State Police called Janeway Towing on June 15, 2021 to respond to an overturned tanker on I-76 Westbound in Montgomery County, Pa. 

Janeway immediately dispatched owner Jamie Dougherty, heavy operators Rick Royles and Matt Maloney, along with operators Ricardo Lopez and Alan Vanderslice.  

Jamie responded in his 2019 Ford F550 with Zips RSB (Road Service Body) unit carrying needed recovery equipment and Mat Jack landing cushions. Rick Royles went out with the 2009 Kenworth T800EC with a Century 1075 75-ton rotator. Matt was in the Century 7035 35-ton heavy with dual 35,000-pound winches. Alan was in a Kenworth with a Century 12-Series LCG (Low Center of Gravity) carrier and Ricardo went for rigging and support. 

Once on scene the crew observed that the tanker, with an active leak, was overturned on a black Acura. The driver’s side and rear of the Acura were badly crushed and both hatches of the tanker had opened spilling raw sewage on the car and the roadway. 76 west was closed at Henderson Road for the recovery and extensive clean up due to the spilled sewage. 

The Century 1075 75-ton rotator was staged at the front of the tanker and boomed out with two lines set to lift the unit. Jamie said, “We began the recovery by lifting the truck off of the car for the spill service to pump off the remaining waste.” 

The LCG carrier was positioned at the front of the Acura. The Acura was winched onto the carrier and secured for transport. Quick dry was spread all around to absorb and contain the spillage. 

Once the tanker was empty the crew placed Mat Jack landing cushions on the underside of the tanker and the Century 1075 rotator was rigged for the upright. Jamie explained, “The unit was uprighted into the landing cushions. Once upright the tanker was prepped for towing.” 

The Century 7035 35-ton towed the tanker from the scene to Janeway’s impound and roadway cleanup was done allowing I-76 to reopen for traffic. 

___________________ 

James “Jamie” H. Dougherty, Jr., the President and CEO of Janeway Towing in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, was born to be a tower. Jane Dougherty, Jamie's mother, the Jane in Janeway Towing, said he ate, slept and dreamt tow trucks since he was 3 years old. 

Since Janeway Towing was established in 1980, Jamie and his crew, all certified WreckMasters, have handled towing, transportation, consulting and have recovered anything and everything they’ve been called to respond to. 

 
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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MIDWESTERN – Nacogdoches, TX
$500
(pop. 34,047)

SOUTHERN – Lake City, FL
$250
(pop. 12,099)

EASTERN - King George, VA
$145
(pop. 4,457)

WESTERN - Brentwood, CA
$276.25
(pop. 53,673)

Heavy-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
July 19 - July 26, 2021

Why Take Chances? 

Taking Chances Pic 2a837
By Randall C. Resch   

Let’s talk common sense, shall we? Some towers have it … some don’t. Towers openly comment what they think about highway safety where I see a mental disconnect between highway safety versus risk and on-the-job dangers.  

A seasoned tower commented: "I guess the whole flirting with danger is part of the job I like best." When new towers read a comment like this, how do they develop a sense of “reality” toward safety and operator survival?  

Although towing and recovery is exciting, it’s far different than working nine-to-five at Office Depot, and so are the inherent risks.  

When Ernest Holmes rolled-out his first wrecker a hundred plus years ago, do you think wrecker operators (then) were concerned about high-speed highways and industry dangers?  

My guess is “No.” Back then there was no concept that operator safety would become a major industry factor. Fast forward to present day; the industry has become a slaughterhouse for tow operators. 

Having been struck by a motorist on a CHP recovery, I've spent much of my career teaching operator safety. From my experience, I've learned that "Pain is a powerful motivator," and that flirting with an untimely demise is backwards thinking.  

Towers complain that a big percentage of today’s motorists don’t know move-over laws exist, yet most states have had move-over laws for years. California’s SDMO law, written in 2007, is a sad reality that confirms SDMO laws don’t work.  

Since 1997, tow operator fatalities have seen a dramatic rise in operator deaths. In 2011, the onset of modernized cellphones and DUI related incidents saw an explosion of highway-related distracted driving crashes accounting for substantial increases in operator fatalities. 

Because we towers are men and women of action, perhaps it’s our DNA that bestowed us misguided superpowers? I’m personally not capable of jumping out of the way of an at-speed vehicle nor are you.  

Maybe I'm just another old fool who should mind my own business, but I believe towers should be a might fearful as to their own survival every time they go boots to the ground.

There are towers that claim they were hit, or almost hit, working the white-line side and openly brag about it. That marginal "brush with death" was heaven’s grace sending a wakeup message to get off the white-line.  

Another tower said to me (with excitement) "I get a rush loading cars on the fast lane’s shoulder, especially when their flyin’ by two-feet away causing my pant legs to rustle in the wind." To that I’ll say … I'm afraid for you.  

So, if we’re supposed to be keepers’ of our own destinies, which side are you on? It takes a phenomenal safety mindset to survive the rigors and risks of our work. Towers’ should understand this industry is inherently dangerous. In that, my work has made it clear that, in this industry, there's more macho than there is common sense.   

 
 

Fraudulent and Misleading Compliance Emails

By Brian J. Riker

We have all received some very obviously fake emails asking us to file a form or pay for a compliance requirement. As email marketing grows in sophistication, more will receive some pretty convincing emails that appear legitimate, often threatening some sort of legal or regulatory penalty if action is not immediately taken. These solicitations cost the trucking industry millions of dollars each year. I want to help towers spot the obvious, and not so obvious, solicitation messages.

As a compliance specialist and consultant it infuriates me when less than scrupulous companies send these advertisements under the pretense of official notifications. It makes the legitimate companies look bad, adds confusion to an already complex regulatory environment and scams hard working towers out of money for services that are usually either free or available at a very low cost when done yourself.

These solicitations usually come in bunches around certain regulatory compliance deadlines. The most common will come with an official sounding title like “Motor Carrier Compliance Division” or similar and inform you that you are out of compliance with some common filing requirement such as Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) or the bi-annual update of your US DOT number. While these are legitimate compliance requirements for most towers, the Agencies involved usually do not send out email reminders, and never send out emails with big “action” buttons (click here to file).

Another common solicitation circulating currently, one that has generated quite a few calls to my office recently, is an email from a Ct. based compliance company informing motor carriers that the deadline for electronic record keeping is here. Let me be clear, while electronic record keeping is the way of the future and can help assure your company remains compliant, it is not a regulatory requirement from the US Department of Transportation yet. It isn’t even a proposed regulation or rule making. This email is simply a company trying to sell its software services to unsuspecting motor carriers, including towers.

Here are some simple tips to help you decide if an email or letter you have received is legitimate or simply a sales pitch. If you still have concerns or doubt after applying these tips, then feel free to reach out to a trusted compliance expert of your choosing for more detailed guidance. You can even find some information about these solicitations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration by typing in “solicitations” in the search bar at the top of their official website.

  • Official US DOT or FMCSA communications will come from an email address ending in .gov
    • Be sure to look closely at the lettering as some fraudulent emails are ending in .g0v using the number zero in place of the letter O
  • The US DOT and FMCSA do not email motor carriers unless you have requested them to either when you registered for your US DOT number or in another form submitted with a specific question or request
  • The US DOT never asks for a credit card or bank access in an email or telephone call
  • While some State Agencies do use email as a regular method of communication, they usually do not have action buttons or ask for a credit card in the email, only on their official website
  • No governmental agency has a subscription service. If the fine print mentions a recurring fee or cancelation policy it is from a third party provider not an official government entity
  • Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) is the most common scam. You status can be verified for free, and filing made without a third party service provider fee, at their official website www.ucr.gov
  • Bi-annual updates are the second most common scam. While the US DOT will deactivate a US DOT number if these are not current it doesn’t happen immediately. The status of your US DOT number can be checked for free at www.safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/CompanySnapshot.aspx and the update can be completed for free using the registration tab at www.fmcsa.dot.gov

Bottom line, the state and federal motor carrier enforcement agencies usually do not initiate communication via email; they prefer regular US Mail. The biggest exception to this is the new entrant safety audit notice which will arrive via email from a state partner of the FMCSA.

If you get an email or telephone call demanding immediate action is it likely to be a high pressure sales pitch at best or an outright scam at worst. If in doubt you can always hang up and call the agency in question directly to confirm.

Re-Entering Highway Traffic 

bigstock Highway Traffic Near Ann Arbor 69407431 725x400 41dac
By Randall C. Resch    

An east coast tow company transported a disabled vehicle from the highway’s shoulder. While slowly merging into fast moving highway traffic and over-head lights “on,” a motorist rear-ended the slow-moving carrier and was killed instantly. Regardless that the motorist crashed into the carrier, a wrongful death lawsuit ultimately blamed the carrier’s operator. 

This narrative is specific to highway scenarios where law enforcement isn’t on-scene. A slow-moving tow truck creates a considerable danger that demands precise movement on the tow operator’s part.  

AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety reported approximately twelve percent of interstate (highway) deaths were the result of crashes occurring on emergency shoulders. It’s estimated that as many as 600-individuals are killed annually with thousands more injured while situated on highway shoulders.  

Referring to the opening fatality scenario, the approaching motorist failed to slow-down and move-over; it was their improper reaction to SDMO (Slow Down Move Over) that caused their death. 

Worse yet, a tower’s survivability is challenged by some state laws prohibiting tow trucks from driving in-traffic with over-head ambers, strobes and rotor lights activated. 

Because on-shoulder crashes are frequent occurrences, consider these suggestions for tow trucks and carriers re-entering traffic from right shoulders or center medians: 

1. For SDMO “reaction” by motorists, tow trucks and carriers must be parked inside the shoulder (stationary) with over-head, emergency lights ”on"
2. From parked, at-idle positions, look rearward in the tow truck’s mirrors for approaching traffic 
3. Start driving forward; emergency light’s “on,” looking for a substantial gap between the tow truck and approaching traffic 
4. Activate the truck’s turn-signals to indicate your direction of travel and the lane you intend to occupy  
5. While remaining inside the shoulder’s white-line, accelerate and gain speed being aware of vehicles or obstacles that may be ahead on the shoulder. Watch for locations where the shoulder lane runs-out or pinches to a point 
6. With “Head on-a-swivel”, accelerate and estimate a realistic gap in-traffic to re-enter traffic 
7. Anticipate that same direction traffic may change lanes toward you at the same time you’re re-entering traffic  
8. Increase truck speed to approximately 50-miles-per-hour while watching following traffic. Merging from center-median or slow-side shoulder requires the truck’s speed to reasonably equal traffic flow  
9. Use turn signals. Keep arms inside the truck’s window for fear a motorist could crash into the tow truck  
10. When a substantial gap in-traffic is available, carefully merge into the next lane with the turn-signal still activated as speed increases  
11. Merge only when safe to do so. Once re-entry is safely made way into traffic-lanes (as allowed by state law), turn over-head emergency lights “off” unless the tow or load (for safe travel) impedes traffic 
12. Never assume they see you 

This is a great topic for your safety meetings. Re-entering traffic lanes from stopped, slow-rolling positions requires total attention and perfect depth-perception.  

This narrative may seem basic and unimportant, but it’s a necessary component of defensive driving and tow truck operations. I guarantee another unfortunate traffic collision like the opening scenario will happen again.  

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July 19 - July 26, 2021

Western Modern

118347847 3318817848165647 7909233748083132373 n 79c5fBy George L. Nitti

In describing the killer logo found on his 2018 Kenworth T880 with a 1075 S Century Rotator, owner Nik Morgan, who has received acclaim in the new reality TV show “Hustle and Tow,” says it projects the image of grit, iron, toughness, and bad to the bone.

Morgan, who owns Morgan’s Towing & Recovery, the largest tow company in Oklahoma with as many as 70 trucks, projects a similar image on the show, as he is seen doing extreme recoveries with his 75 ton rotator. So it is only fitting that the company brand rise to some of the owner’s unique qualities.

The logo puts the Morgan name front and center, in a western styled font. Morgan said, “Afterall, we are in Oklahoma and we tow in the plains and the valleys through the countryside.” Contrasting the western flavor, however, is a modern scripted font, giving contrast between country and modern sensibilities.

Behind the white lettering of each of the fonts that are accentuated by shadows of red and black, is a diamond shaped design in a washed out black and white graphic with several stars and stripes. That shape is contained partially in a diamond plated frame as the crisp lettering extends over the diamond and onto the red background of the truck where modern black and white stripes give it further identification.

Morgan said, “I wanted to do something modern and contemporary with 80’s styled pinstriping. Something smooth.”

Those modern stripes can also be found on the side of the unit, extending across its large rotator real estate, with the Morgan logo and brand clearly standing out.

Morgan said, “I didn’t want a busy truck. Or a loud one. I wanted something calm to contrast with our name, so that would stand out.”

The red, white and black rotator, with a Western Modern flavor, is also enhanced by the yellow outriggers that stand out against those colors.

“Oklahoma’s Largest” pops in white lettering on the front sides of the truck. When asked about how he keeps up with such a large business, Morgan said, “It has a sleeper for a reason. It’s a dog house.”

 

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!

Highlighting Moose Country

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By George L. Nitti 

Maine is well noted for being Moose Country, with an estimated population of around 75,000. The numbers within the state rise the further north one goes.  

In Skowhegan, Me., 201 Service Towing and Auto Repair, located approximately 80 miles from the Canadian border, has capitalized on Maine’s renown, rebranding itself by including a wrap of a large moose on the side of their black 2020 MV International 21 ft Miller steel flatbeds.  

Technical Operations Manager, Luke York, who co-owns the 1984 established business with his father Dean, said, “Obviously we thought branding ourselves with a moose was a good choice. Maine has the largest population of moose. We didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing. Slap a name on the truck.” 

The company initiated an online contest, where the graphic was created, and they now use it on their apparel and merchandise, which York believes is another thing that draws more customers. 

The red highlighting around the large gray and white moose, which has a tow chain looped around its neck, help set it apart from the unit’s background, making it more clearly visible, while defining it as a tow company. 

As part of their rebranding strategy, the company also dropped its city name “Skowhegan” from “201 Service.”  

“We thought having ‘Skowhegan’ in our name limited us and limited the distance people thought we were willing to travel to do tows,” said York.  

Besides moose, Maine is renown for its mountain ranges and trees, lumber a key industry in the state. 

On the front and side of their wreckers, there are gray shapes in the form of mountain ranges and on the cover of the wrapped toolbox are grayish/white trees that make-up a forest.  

Overlapping these graphics in a couple of key places – the toolbox on the side of the unit and the back of the cab – is a modern graphic spelling out “201 Service,” which pops out in red and white lettering. 

“201 is the main thoroughfare we service, which goes all the way to the Canadian border.” 

Brag @ TIW!  

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

A Rare Breed

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By George L. Nitti

It’s been said that the difference between something good and something great is attention to detail. Compelling tow trucks are no exception, including the stellar fleet of 13 trucks owned by F&S Automotive in Mantua, Ohio.

It’s the cumulative effect of many details that make for a rare breed and great visual showcase, which is exemplified on their now-retired 1969 Peterbilt/Hubbard Wrecker 30-ton, a classic truck that’s won many awards over the years.

“It was originally bought brand new as a road tractor,” said owner Dean Stebbins Sr., who founded the company in 1967. “It hauled sand for a couple of years and then was parked. I was told that, ‘You ought to build a wrecker out of it.’ After buying it, I sent it to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and had a 750 Holmes put on it. Then I sent it to Farmland, Indiana, where they custom-built wreckers and added a custom-built boom and underlift.”

Color is one critical detail that can’t be overlooked. No color stands out like red, particularly when coordinated with gold.

“At one time, all of our trucks were yellow,” Stebbins said. “Then we went to red. I liked red better.”

Both doors of the unit display Old English lettering with decorative pinstriping within an encased white plaque that spells out the company name and location. A medallion on the front passenger side instills company trust with the words “F&S Incorporated. Since 1967.”

The unit includes a tribute to Stebbins’ mother, Hazel, who passed in 1990.

“She was a driving force for me to excel in whatever I wanted to do,” Stebbins said. “I grew up on a farm and was surrounded by machinery. She encouraged me to always follow my dreams. I thought I wanted to be a farmer, but when I got around tow trucks, I was fascinated with them.”

Above the front grill is a bug shield that says “Drag-n-Wagon.”

Stebbins said, “At one time, it was called ‘The Dragon’ because it was the monster in northeast Ohio. When you tow something you’ve got to drag it so I said, ‘Let’s call it drag-n-wagon.’ ”

The lady figure found on the front of the truck is a symbol of Stebbins close relationship he has with it.

He said, “You might say the truck is my love. It’s my girl.”

One longstanding practice the company adheres to is keeping their trucks meticulously clean, washing them upon every return.

“They call me ‘Mr. Meticulous,’ ” Stebbins said. “Even our shops you can eat off the floor. Cleanliness is the best way to go. I want people to feel good about where they work and what they are driving.”

All little details adding up to make a great difference.

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!
July 19 - July 26, 2021

WEBFLEET Video

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Webfleet Solutions launched WEBFLEET Video into the market. With the industry leading technology of Webfleet Solutions and Lytx, a leading global provider of video telematics solutions for fleets, integrated on one platform, users can access and manage both their vehicles and their in-vehicle cameras from a single interface. 

Road facing and optional cabin facing HD dashcam event footage is displayed alongside driving data to give users the full context of road incidents. Users can request video from a specific time and position of a previous trip or instantly livestream from the road, to take action immediately when an incident occurs. 

Accompanying WEBFLEET Video is the CAM 50 dashcam. This hardware uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to automatically identify risky behaviour such as distracted driving and mobile phone usage. When it does so, it notifies the driver with a visual and audio alert, helping them avoid dangerous situations. 

“For the fleets we serve, safeguarding drivers is crucial,” says Matt Gunzenhauser, Director of US Sales, Webfleet Solutions. “And the more accurate a picture you have of what’s occurring on the road, the more protection you can give them. This is what WEBFLEET Video delivers. With footage from the road, drivers get both clear examples of how they can drive safer. It further provides evidence to protect them
For more information please visit:  https://www.webfleet.com/en_us/webfleet/lp/webfleet-video/?cid=7015Y000002TNdrQAG&ls=mwd

Peterbilt’s Medium Duty Trucks

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Peterbilt’s New Medium Duty family of trucks is built for Versatility with multiple hood and roof options for any application. Built for Productivity with excellent visibility, outstanding maneuverability and a spacious interior. Built for Efficiency with a best-in-class 7" digital display and the new PACCAR TX-8 automatic transmission. Built for Uptime with durable design and easy access to service points. Peterbilt’s New Medium Duty trucks are built to show up every day. Every mile. Every haul. Every job.

TMA Truck - Truck Mounted Attenuator Truck

Hino TMA3 Right 1151x503 8102b
A TMA Truck is designed to save lives in your work zone. All of our TMA trucks for sale are built to meet all work zone safety requirements, is intended to absorb the impact of a high (or low) speed crash, decrease damage made to the vehicle, and save workers’ lives.

FEATURES 

Custom built steel flatbed with heavy duty bulkhead, LED marker lights and black non-skid deck 

2 Low-profile (Amber) LED strobes on bulkhead, 2 rear mounted strobes 

Truck mounted attenuator meets NCHRP 350 at 100kph (62mph), Testing standards available upon request, Your choice of a new MASH approved unit 

15 or 25 LED lamp arrow board, fixed or hydraulically raised & lowered, solar panel charging system with battery and cab-mounted remote (Solar for arrow board only) 

To keep a modular design, blanks are added to allow for future man bucket installations. 

Equipped with rubrails and stake pockets for future racks 

2 Back-up cameras with 7” LCD monitor, audio, 3 Video inputs, Durable outdoor cameras with audio and cables (1 year warranty) 

Choice of body length: 15′, 18′, other body lengths available upon request 

(2) Side 33″ wide man buckets with steps, Heavy duty lids, Swing gates, Props and Adjustable safety hoop 

8 Additional LED work lights (6 under-the-bed, 2 on bulkhead) 

Custom fabricated 36″ high removable racks – Powder coated yellow 

Choice of body length: 15′, 18′ or custom 

For more information: https://royaltruckandequipment.com/tma-truck/

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July 19 - July 26, 2021
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July 19 - July 26, 2021
Tim Nielsen

Repo Agent Killed in Oakland, Ca.

 Tim Nielsen, a repossession agent for Any Capital Recovery Inc., was shot and killed in Oakland, Ca., on 6/14 while working on assignment.  

According to Nielsen’s boss and friend Lerron Payne, he was shot at an intersection writing a report in his truck. He then managed to drive away, but crashed into a building in East Oakland, a couple of blocks away.  

Payne said, “He wasn’t even hooking a car. Everything went south. It’s a rough industry, don’t get me wrong but this is pretty much the extreme.” 

Family and friends described Tim Nielsen, a father to four, as their rock and their hero. 

“This is a man that I can say gave unconditional love to everyone and all he ever wanted to do was help people. That was his dream, his purpose in life,” said Jennifer Huff-Wensmann, the victim’s girlfriend. 

Oakland police said no one has been arrested in the case. They are looking at all possibilities, from a random attack to the possibility it was related to a repo assignment. 

https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com

Auto Finance Boom Reported

According to the Brookhaven Courier, a newspaper run by students at Dallas College, the auto finance industry has seen a boom since the emergence of Covid-19, particularly the used car market. Part of this spike has to do with stimulus check and unemployment benefits.

Inske Zandvliet, economics professor at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus, said the demand for used cars is higher due to COVID-19. “People want to avoid traveling on public transport, so they are purchasing cars,” she said. “This leads to the second reason – a new car is a larger purchase. Since economic times are now uncertain, in terms of employment, many people choose to purchase a used car since it is not as expensive.”

Due to the sudden demand for used cars, auto finance companies such as Vehicle Solutions Corp profited, according to CNBC Evolve. 

David Ricci, the company’s repossession manager, said his workload remained steady. “I was expecting to have to repo a lot more cars in the beginning,” Ricci said. “But as it went on, the collections teams ended up keeping the customers current or making payment arrangements, so they didn’t get repossessed.”

Because used cars were selling better, there was a demand for them. “The subprime market was pretty strong, so the cars we did repo sold for a good amount,” Ricci said. The proceeds of the sales helped to offset the losses from cutting back on funding.

https://brookhavencourier.com/107120/local-news/the-auto-finance-boom-during-a-pandemic/

Repo Leads to Arrest in Firearms and Explosives

A repossession of a Mercedes in San Francisco led to the discovery of cache of firearms and explosives in late February. The perpetrator, who had a criminal history, was eventually arrested.

The sequence of events started when 31-year-old Cameron Ybarra shot at a repossessor, missing him and putting a bullet in the driver’s side of his car. After he retrieved items out of the car, he went into his residence, where he retrieved an assault rifle and pointed it at the repo man.

The driver “disconnected the vehicle, fled the area and called 911.”

Police followed up, impounding the Mercedes but were unable to find the shooter until they converged on his residence.

According to a police report, “SFPD investigators from the Crime Gun Investigations Center (CGIC) and Gang Task Force (GTF), along with special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) responded to the suspect’s residence to arrest the suspect and serve a search warrant.”

After officers arrested him, they found inside the house an assault rifle, ammunition, bosy armor, a silencer, bomb making materials and other things.

Ybarra was booked for carrying a concealed weapon, possession of ammunition by a prohibited person, negligent discharge of a firearm, possession of a silencer, assault with a deadly weapon, possession of an explosive device and resisting arrest.

https://www.crimevoice.com/2021/03/09/firearms-explosives/

Repo Job Turns into Bizarre Arrest

75 year old John Beasly of Tenn., whose white Kia was repo’ed and then reported stolen, was arrested when pulled over driving his own car.

Though the car was registered as stolen, police confirmed Beasley was the registered owner of the car.

“It turns out the vehicle is his. He reported it stolen. It had been repossessed. He did not tell the police that it was not stolen and he got it back, so it could be removed from the system. So, it was still in the system,” said Belle Meade, Tenn. Police Sgt. Jon Carter.

It was then that police learned that Beasley had two warrants for his arrest, one for misdemeanor trespassing and the other for felony vandalism.

Sgt. Carter said, “Basically he called the cops on himself. He completely forgot he reported it stolen. Even when I told him it is still showing as stolen, he said, it is not, it is my car. And then it finally clicked that he reported it when it was repo’ed.”

https://www.wkrn.com/
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