The Week's Features
Two towers, hit by a pick-up truck, lose their lives during a recovery on a slick interstate highway.
After a a vehicle plunges down a 100 ft ravine, Utah’s Great West Towing & Recovery comes to the rescue.
Towers should look to use a GPS navigation system that meets the specifications of their tow trucks.
Find out why this online unclaimed-vehicle auction platform and marketplace is an ideal meeting ground for both buyers and sellers.
Company’s tow trucks are disabled after being hit with bullets by a shooter at large.
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June 17-19, 2021
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Aug. 5-7, 2021
Las Vegas, NV.
Sept. 15-17, 2021
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 11-14, 2021
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing October 28 - November 03, 2020

Michigan Tow Truck Driver Injured in Hit-and-Run

Michigan tow truck driver David Salomon of Lavish Towing was badly injured in a hit and run incident after trying to tow a vehicle. He suffered a head injury and a broken foot.

Lavish Tow owner Lavish Williams stated, “I got a strange voice over the 2-way radio from a lady who was hysterical. She was pretty much saying, ‘Your driver just got hit on the freeway.’”

Salomon’s partner Juhnn’e Bailey said, “I heard the crash and when I turned around, his legs were in the air.”

Salomon said, “I don’t think I’m supposed to be here. I was up about at least 8 feet in the sky. Came back down and I don’t remember nothing else after that.”

https://www.clickondetroit.com/


Click here to read more

Two Towmen Down in Montana


Two towers in Montana lost their lives on October 25 when they were struck by a pickup truck along a slick interstate I-90. The young men, Nick Ryan Visser, 37, and William Casie Allen, 28, worked for Hanser’s Automotive of Billings, Mt.

According to a social media post from the company, “Our two drivers were senselessly struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle who chose not to heed to our warning signs, emergency responder flashers, and general weather conditions.”

The Montana Highway Patrol said the two operators were on foot working to recover a vehicle from a ditch along the highway when the crash occurred.

Police say that a semi truck driven by a 57 year old Minnesota resident came around a corner and slowed after spotting the tow trucks. An 18 year old Utah resident who was driving a pickup hauling a trailer reportedly did not see the semi truck’s brake lights. The pickup driver swerved into the passing lane to avoid a collision with the semi and struck the two tow truck operators.

According to Hanser’s, “They were dedicated workers, and they were passionate about their families and hobbies. One was a husband and father of five who loved motorcycles and his huge family/ six trillion brothers. And beards. And hoodies. The other was a sweet little soft-spoken guy who was in love with the great outdoors and could have had another 60 years of fishing, bow hunting, and shooting ahead of him.”

To benefit the families of each of the men, Hanser’s has set up separate gofundme pages to assist with funeral costs and other expenses.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/nick-visser-memorial-fundraiser?utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet
https://www.gofundme.com/f/casie-allen-memorial-fundraiser?utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet

The Yellowstone Valley Tow Truck Association is planning to light up the night from atop the Billings Rimrocks on Friday at 7 p.m. to honor the two men. 

Source:
https://cdllife.com/
https://www.krtv.com/


How Tow Bosses Around the USA are Grappling with Pandemic Effects

Managing your GPS Navigation System

51l66 20df4
Brian J Riker

Recently I learned of someone that was fined nearly $10,000 because they followed their navigation device across a weight restricted bridge. Upon further investigation it was discovered that the driver was not using a truck specific navigation system, but instead relying on an app installed on his phone that was designed for non-commercial vehicles. Fortunately, there was not a failure of the bridge and no damage was done. The fine was hefty but the entire situation could have been much worse.

Every day towers respond to truck drivers that have found themselves in some bad situations simply because they were following their GPS based navigation system. While this can be lucrative work for our industry, towers are not immune to making similar errors themselves.

An effective company safety policy will include restrictions on driver’s using their own personal electronics for business purposes - including using their own GPS navigation device. It may sound silly but as the company owner you are the one on the hook for the damage caused when a heavy truck crosses a weight restricted bridge or roadway and causes damage.

Sure, the driver will receive a citation and fine, but you or your insurance, will be paying for the damages. Can you afford $1 million or more to repair or replace a bridge? I doubt it, and to further complicate the issue your insurance carrier may even deny the claim if they discover you were allowing the driver to use a navigation device that was inappropriate.

I am not going to recommend one brand over another, only that towers make sure the navigation system they are using in their trucks is designed to provide routing based upon the individual truck that is being driven. A robust navigation system will include user selectable size and weight settings as well as other considerations such as cargo-based restrictions like hazardous materials.

When using a navigation system that is integrated with your dispatch system be sure that it is designed for the size and weight of your trucks. Many of the generic systems available for integration today are designed for light commercial vehicles, if any consideration at all has been made, and are not capable of properly routing a tow truck or tractor trailer.

Another consideration is where in your truck the GPS device mounted. There are restrictions imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and most State vehicle codes as to where a device may be mounted and how the driver can interact with it while the vehicle is being driven. In most cases the device must be mounted either in the top six inches of the windshield or, if a lower mounting location is desired, on the dashboard. Mounting any device other than approved safety devices such as cameras or lane departure/collision avoidance sensors lower than six inches from the top of the windshield or within the wiper sweep is illegal.

I often observe cell phone and GPS navigation devices mounted at the lower left corner of a windshield or worse yet, directly in the center of a windshield. Not only is this distracting, it obstructs vision both forward and in the side view mirrors (especially at night), giving motor carrier enforcement a reason to initiate a traffic stop and conduct an inspection when they otherwise would not have been able to. Please be aware of the rules in the states that you operate for mounting your cell phone and navigation devices.

Lastly, do not attempt to input an address or search for a point of interest along your route while driving. Not only is this illegal in every state it makes us no better than the other “D” drivers that put us at risk every day. Just because we are professional drivers and are in a rush to meet customer demands, that does not make us immune from becoming distracted drivers. The best solution is to have your navigation system integrated with your digital dispatch terminal for one touch navigation to your next destination.

By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


Have you diversified into any new revenue streams to cope with the pandemic?
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Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
October 28 - November 03, 2020
William Sanford, fleet manager of AC Towing & Recovery, reminding motorists of Covid-19 protocols and slowing down/moving over.

NY Tow Company Encouraging Use of Ride Sharing Apps

AC’s Towing and Recovery of Schenectady, NY, is one of many companies throughout the country implementing Covid 19 protocols during roadside assistance. With heavier call volumes due to inclement weather, they are reinforcing their message.

Although the company says some of their trucks, like flatbeds or medium duty wreckers allow for them to give people rides while adhering to social distancing guidelines, other trucks in their fleet are not appropriate.

So the company’s fleet manager says they’re encouraging its customers to use ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft.

He also says he wants to remind people that when you do see a tow truck or disabled vehicle - slow down and move over.

William Sanford, Fleet Manager at AC’s Towing & Recovery, said, “We’re out there for you. First and foremost, our move over law...please, we just lost a couple more over last weekend. Our brothers and sister are out there on the white line like us - please slow down and move over.”

https://cbs6albany.com/
On the Hook with John Borowski - 6
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October 28 - November 03, 2020
Tiffany and Jeremy Lange of Lee’s Towing in front of one of their bullet ridden disabled wreckers.

Wyoming Tow Company Vandalized

Lee’s Towing of Wheatland, Wyoming was a target of vandalism when several of their tow trucks were shot up with bullets sometime after October 11 by an unknown shooter still at large.

The incident was discovered by owner Jeremy Lange and his wife Tiffany when they took their trucks out on calls. In both instances, their motors seized up and needed to be towed back to the business.

The bullets, found to have penetrated the engines and radiators, damaged 3 of their units - a 2015 F450, a 2019 35-ton Peterbilt, and a 2012 55-ton Peterbilt.  Their flatbed was also hit, but only sustained body damage. According to company owner Jeremy Lange, the damage could go up to somewhere around $1M.  

Lange said, “We moved our kids here because it was a small town. We thought that things like this wouldn’t happen in a small town.”

Stauffer’s Towing from Salt Lake City loaned Lee’s Towing two heavy wreckers.

“We need to keep going,” Lange said. “We have bills and we have employees that count on us to keep them employed so they can pay their bills.”

 The Platte County Sheriff’s Department and the Department of Criminal Investigation are on the case.

https://pcrecordtimes.com/

Two Towers Struck and [b]Killed in Montana

Two towers in Montana lost their lives on October 25 when they were struck by a pickup truck along a slick interstate I-90. The young men, Nick Ryan Visser, 37, and William Casie Allen, 28, worked for Hanser’s Automotive of Billings, Mt.

According to a social media post from the company, “Our two drivers were senselessly struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle who chose not to heed to our warning signs, emergency responder flashers, and general weather conditions.”

The Montana Highway Patrol said the two operators were on foot working to recover a vehicle from a ditch along the highway when the crash occurred.

Police say that a semi truck driven by a 57 year old Minnesota resident came around a corner and slowed after spotting the tow trucks. An 18 year old Utah resident who was driving a pickup hauling a trailer reportedly did not see the semi truck’s brake lights. The pickup driver swerved into the passing lane to avoid a collision with the semi and struck the two tow truck operators.

According to Hanser’s, “They were dedicated workers, and they were passionate about their families and hobbies. One was a husband and father of five who loved motorcycles and his huge family/ six trillion brothers. And beards. And hoodies. The other was a sweet little soft-spoken guy who was in love with the great outdoors and could have had another 60 years of fishing, bow hunting, and shooting ahead of him.”

To benefit the families of each of the men, Hanser’s has set up separate gofundme pages to assist with funeral costs and other expenses.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/nick-visser-memorial-fundraiser?utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet
https://www.gofundme.com/f/casie-allen-memorial-fundraiser?utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet

The Yellowstone Valley Tow Truck Association is planning to light up the night from atop the Billings Rimrocks on Friday at 7 p.m. to honor the two men. 

Source:
https://cdllife.com/
https://www.krtv.com/

Chicago Councilman [b]Proposes Two Ordinances

As a result of countless stories about the shady practices of Chicago towers and a hearing in early September, city Alderman Gilbert Villegas has acted to create two towing ordinances.



At a hearing in early September, concerns about tower practices were brought up, including arriving on crash scenes before police and fire personnel, red light running and overcharging for storage fees, in some cases requiring large amounts of cash.



“We feel that this is a public safety issue,” Villegas said, hoping that he will be the last city official to tackle these “seedy” situations.



One ordinance will give the city the ability to revoke a license for misbehavior. Villegas suggests that this will gives tow companies less time to change their name, go out of business and then open up a business within days, which often happens under the current system.



The second proposal by Villegas is a rotation ordinance for police tows and wrecks – a rotating system of which tow operator gets sent where and when.



“The city could be broken up theoretically into north, central, and south, where there’ll be territories that companies can bid on,” Villegas said, “and once an accident does take place, the Chicago Police Department knows to notify the approved vendors.”



https://chicago.cbslocal.com

Outcry over Baltimore [b]Towing Reforms

Some tow companies in Baltimore said that they felt blindsided by recent proposals by the city to reform the industry through the passage of an upcoming bill. These changes may include 11 new amendments.

Charles Parrish, who manages Vision Wrecker Service, said he and others in the towing industry were never informed about the proposals until minutes before a city council committee was slated to vote on the measures.

He said, “If you want to reform our industry, make public awareness.”

Other tow companies in the city of Baltimore expressing concern include Auto Barn, Frankford’s, Universal, Nell’s, Ted’s, Pollard’s and Mc-n-Mc Towing.

Norman McCarthy of Mc-n-Mc said, “You are going to chase the good people out of the industry and you are going to be stuck with a bunch of thieves.”

City councilman Ryan Dorsey, who drafted the legislation, defended the proposals, writing “This bill requires a study of new dispatch methods that I believe could open the door for smaller businesses to become prime contractors to the city.”

While towing operators believe reforms are necessary, they question why they never were allowed input.

Parrish stated, “While we don’t have a problem with more tow companies , we do have a problem with how they plan to execute the dispatching through an Uber style dispatcher.”

A final vote was taken and the bill will pass, pending the signing by the mayor.

https://foxbaltimore.com/

Missouri Tow company Sued [b]for Wrongful Death

Missouri tow company Affordable Towing of Springfield was sued for the wrongful death of Matt Canovi, who was run over by a tow truck after he got a flat tire in May.

According to police, Canovi, who hosted the The Gun Show on local radio, died as a result of his injuries. On Sept. 24, Canovi's wife and children filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Affordable Towing and the driver who hit Canovi.

The lawsuit claims that when the tow truck driver from Affordable Towing arrived, Canovi spoke with him and then began walking back toward his vehicle on the side of the highway. He got hit as the tow truck backed up.

The lawsuit claims the driver was negligent in not keeping a careful lookout, backing up at an excessive speed, not giving enough warning before backing up and not making sure Canovi was out of the way.

https://www.news-leader.com/

Nissan to Pay for [b]Wrongful Repossessions

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) alleged that between 2013 and 2019, Nissan Motor’s lending unit “wrongly repossessed hundreds of consumers’ vehicles despite the consumer having made payment.” Although Nissan’s lending arm denied any wrongdoing, they agreed to pay $4 million to settle the allegations.

The CFPB charges include that Nissan repossessed vehicles within delinquency of 60 days when terms stipulated against that. In addition, they kept personal property in repossessed vehicles until consumers paid a storage fee, and deprived consumers paying by phone of the ability to select payment options with significantly lower fees."

The agency said actions violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act prohibition against unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The settlement imposes requirements "to prevent future violations and remediate consumers whose vehicles are wrongfully repossessed going forward," the bureau said.

https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com/
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October 28 - November 03, 2020

Not So Simple Act of Kindness

1 b903a
by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On April 21, 2020 a fatal crash occurred on state Route 59 in Hurricane, Utah after a vehicle went off a cliff and plunged to the bottom of a 100-foot ravine.

It was reported that officers and emergency personnel were dispatched to SR-59 near the Hurricane Hill trailhead, commonly known as the Hurricane Overlook, on a single-vehicle crash involving a green Geo Tracker. The SUV came to rest roughly 260 feet below the edge of the cliff. When officers reached the wreckage, they found the driver, an elderly man who was in his early 80s, inside the vehicle and deceased.

Great West Towing & Recovery LLC of St. George, Utah, offered to recover the vehicle from the ravine at no cost. Great West operator Cameron Kent informed, “Nobody called us on the recovery. We heard about it on the news then realized it was still there days later. I started calling around to get more info on it and found out only liability insurance and they were not paying. So we offered to recover the car but without any charge to the family.”

For the recovery they used their 1995 Chevy 3500 light-duty Nomar wrecker boom truck with dual winches and a 2019 International 4300 MV with a Chevron rollback to help tie down the wrecker and keep it planted to the ground.

However, the location of the vehicle made for a not so simple recovery that entailed adding extra feet of cable to reach the vehicle from the top where the wrecker was located. They used almost 500-feet of cable on this recovery, two 100-feet cables and a single 200-feet cable along with the dual 50 foot cables on the Nomar boom truck.

Cameron and operator Adam Clarke repelled down the cliff side while Great West owner Lee Clarke was up top controlling the winches from the Nomar wrecker. The two operators were lowered down the side of the cliff and then hiked into the deep ravine where the Tracker was located and then rigged it for recovery.

Cameron explained, “We had to re-rig the winches about four times to prevent the SUV from falling back down into the ravine. Fortunately we always bring extra cable.”

The dead lift (the point when the vehicle is off the ground and winching through the air straight up the cliff wall) was just about 98-feet. Once they got it topside, they loaded it on their Chevron rollback and hauled it to their yard.

The recovery began at daybreak and was completed about four hours later.

Cameron said, “This recovery actually went much smoother than we thought it would considering the location of the vehicle.”

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!

Windmill Tower Recovery

1 d31cc
by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Early evening, on June 23rd, 2020, dispatcher Carla Ruiz of Central Iowa Towing & Recovery Inc. received a call from a trucking company that was carrying a super-load, which had overturned off of an exit ramp on Interstate 35 south bound just outside of Decatur City, Iowa.

They were told it was a 2009 Kenworth T800 heavy-haul tractor and its 8-axle trailer hauling a large section of windmill tower weighing approximately 220k-pounds.

Central owner Dustin Tapp informed, “We have done these windmill sections that had overturned in the past, but none were this heavy.”

Dispatch arranged a crew to start towards the accident scene. Operator Jared Vandewall was sent out in their 2014 Kenworth T800 equipped with a Century 1140 40-ton rotator. Operator Mike Lamberson responded in their 2020 Peterbilt 389 twin-steer equipped with a Century 1150 50-ton knee boom rotator. Operator Alex Gustafson responded in their 2015 Peterbilt 387 equipped with a Century 5130 wrecker. Operator Cody Holmes responded in their 2008 Kenworth T800 equipped with a Century 4024. Central’s Incident Response truck was brought out by operator Kevin Murphy. Others who responded were Craig Tapp, Chase Carlson, Billy See, Luke Schnieder, Tyler Mortvedt, and Nate Brommel to assist with traffic control, fuel spill clean up, and rigging.

Dustin stated, “We sent quite a bit of iron and personnel as we were only given very limited information and the scene of the incident was 103 miles from our home base. Its always best to have more personnel and equipment than you need versus waiting for its arrival.”

On their way to the incident the Central crew learned that another company had originally been called, but did not have enough equipment for such a large job.

“We made contact with the wrecker company to see if they had any pictures or details,” said Dustin. “We learned it was on a very narrow ramp with a steep shoulder. After reviewing the pictures we decided to bring in another wrecker company that we work very well with.”

Dustin called on Wes Penny at Mid Iowa Towing in Des Moines, Iowa and he and his son Austin responded with their 2020 Peterbilt 389 equipped with a Century 1150 50-ton rotator.

When the operators arrived on scene they did their walk-around, surveyed the situation and made a recovery plan.

“Local and State law officials were informed of the complexity of the recovery and given a rough time frame we would have the ramp closed,” explained Dustin. “Our traffic control closed off the ramp setting up cones and signs. We informed traffic management and they lit up the digital sign boards to inform travelers on the highway.”

The recovery crew then began positioning trucks for the recovery.

“We rigged our 1140 with Jared at the controls to the front of the tower,” explained Dustin. “We positioned our 1150 twin-steer with Mike at the controls in the center of the tower. At the rear of the tower was Mid Iowa’s 1150 with Wes and Austin at the controls. In the front we used our 5130 on the front jeep section ran by Alex and rear of the tractor with our 4024 ran by Cody on the front of the tractor.” The crew first removed the fuel from the tanks to avoid the possibility of any more contaminants leaking.

Once everything was positioned and a safe working environment was established the operators and ground personnel put on their Sonetics wireless headsets and began rigging. The rotators were rigged using 15-ton snatch blocks, 5/8-inch G100 chain, 1 ½-inch screw pin shackles and 12-inch x 26-foot double ply straps. The front trucks were rigged using 12-ton snatch blocks and 5/8-inch rim slings.

Dustin said, “We used a low line off of the 4024 to spike the front of the tractor down. Low lines were used on the 5130 to pull the rear tandems and jeep down. Both main lines off of the 1140 were doubled and rigged to lift the front of the tube while the drag winch was giving down pressure at the same time. Both high lines were used off our 1150 hooked to straps supporting and lifting the center of the tube. Mid Iowa’s 1150 used both main lines to create lift of the rear and its drag to spike the jeep.”

Once the unit was back on the ground, the rotators were used to support the tube while they pulled the complete unit out of the ditch and onto the road. Once on the road the drum was secured to the trailer. The transport company brought in a new road tractor.

“We removed the damaged tractor while still supporting the load and put the new one under it,” said Dustin. “Our crew reset three trailer tires. The damaged tractor was transported back to our lot for storage.”

With the new tractor successfully hooked to the unit it was transported to the nearest safe haven which was roughly 1-mile away. Once there Central used their two rotators to lift one end of the tower at a time to re-center it into the trailer. The company waited for day-break to finish the transportation of the tower.

Dustin informed, “The driver was OK as the incident was at a low speed. We never found a BOL (bill of laden) with the actual weights on it or a scale ticket. We were informed by a law enforcement official that their rolling scale had a 246k-pound load cross it in the right time frame.”

From start to finish the job took just over 8 hours 40 minutes including the drive time.

Dustin stated, “Two competing companies coming together was a very large key to the success of this recovery. We were all one team that day, no egos involved. Just one common goal and the drive to make it happen.”
…………………………………….

Dustin Tapp is the owner/manager/CEO of Central Iowa Towing & Recovery Inc. based in Ames, Iowa. Central Iowa Towing & Recovery is a full service, licensed towing company that serves Story County, Iowa and surrounding areas with a diversified fleet and knowledgeable staff equipped to handle any job, big or small.

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!

Eagle Hooking on I-80

Eagle Hooking on I 80 TIW 10 5a288by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On September 26th, 2020, Norberg’s Towing of Green River, Wy., was called to recover a rear-ended truck from I-80, about 10 miles outside of town.

Norberg’s custom fleet includes some unique, purpose built, one-of-a-kind, no nonsense rigs. All are heavy-duty workhorses.

For this job, Shawn Norberg headed out in the Eagle, his 1998 Freightliner FL112 with a Don Hines bed and a Zacklift. Double framed and powered by a C12 engine mated to an 8LL trans, this hefty unit has a 46,000-pound rear end with full lockers on a walking beam suspension and an 18,000-pound steer axle.

Shawn explained, “The driver had pulled to the side of the road to have his tire fixed when another semi came up and rear-ended him, crushing the back-end of the trailer and going into the ditch down the road.”

Sunlite Service, another area company, was called by the Wyoming Highway Patrol to recover that semi while Norberg’s handled the rear-ended truck.

Shawn informed, “The trailer was loaded with metal crates that held the sub-frames of Tesla electric cars. Each weighing 2,500-pounds. The trailer doors were strapped shut to secure the load for transport.”

Shawn backed his wrecker to the rear of the trailer, pulled a line from the Eagle and wrapped it around the damaged trailer’s rear axle that had been pushed forward after being rear-ended and winched the axle back in place. Once the axle was in place and secured, the driver followed Shawn to his yard.

“The customer sent another trailer to our yard and I used my forklift to offload the casualty onto that trailer,” said Shawn. “Tried moving a stack of five, but was too much. It was slow going. Could have used a bigger forklift. I think it will be a good investment.”

------

Brothers Dale Sheridan Norberg, Jr. and Shawn Michael Norberg manage and operate Norberg's Towing Service in Green River, Wy., the family business their father Dale Sheridan Sr. and mother Elaine established in 1967. The brothers grew up in the business and from their mother, brothers, uncles, sons, and cousins, this is a family fully involved in the business from the oldest to the youngest, including Shawn’s little daughter, Billie. The Norberg family has handled every kind of situation from winch-outs to extreme recoveries in the rough Wyoming terrain.


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!


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.
October 28 - November 03, 2020

Managing your GPS Navigation System

51l66 20df4
Brian J Riker

Recently I learned of someone that was fined nearly $10,000 because they followed their navigation device across a weight restricted bridge. Upon further investigation it was discovered that the driver was not using a truck specific navigation system, but instead relying on an app installed on his phone that was designed for non-commercial vehicles. Fortunately, there was not a failure of the bridge and no damage was done. The fine was hefty but the entire situation could have been much worse.

Every day towers respond to truck drivers that have found themselves in some bad situations simply because they were following their GPS based navigation system. While this can be lucrative work for our industry, towers are not immune to making similar errors themselves.

An effective company safety policy will include restrictions on driver’s using their own personal electronics for business purposes - including using their own GPS navigation device. It may sound silly but as the company owner you are the one on the hook for the damage caused when a heavy truck crosses a weight restricted bridge or roadway and causes damage.

Sure, the driver will receive a citation and fine, but you or your insurance, will be paying for the damages. Can you afford $1 million or more to repair or replace a bridge? I doubt it, and to further complicate the issue your insurance carrier may even deny the claim if they discover you were allowing the driver to use a navigation device that was inappropriate.

I am not going to recommend one brand over another, only that towers make sure the navigation system they are using in their trucks is designed to provide routing based upon the individual truck that is being driven. A robust navigation system will include user selectable size and weight settings as well as other considerations such as cargo-based restrictions like hazardous materials.

When using a navigation system that is integrated with your dispatch system be sure that it is designed for the size and weight of your trucks. Many of the generic systems available for integration today are designed for light commercial vehicles, if any consideration at all has been made, and are not capable of properly routing a tow truck or tractor trailer.

Another consideration is where in your truck the GPS device mounted. There are restrictions imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and most State vehicle codes as to where a device may be mounted and how the driver can interact with it while the vehicle is being driven. In most cases the device must be mounted either in the top six inches of the windshield or, if a lower mounting location is desired, on the dashboard. Mounting any device other than approved safety devices such as cameras or lane departure/collision avoidance sensors lower than six inches from the top of the windshield or within the wiper sweep is illegal.

I often observe cell phone and GPS navigation devices mounted at the lower left corner of a windshield or worse yet, directly in the center of a windshield. Not only is this distracting, it obstructs vision both forward and in the side view mirrors (especially at night), giving motor carrier enforcement a reason to initiate a traffic stop and conduct an inspection when they otherwise would not have been able to. Please be aware of the rules in the states that you operate for mounting your cell phone and navigation devices.

Lastly, do not attempt to input an address or search for a point of interest along your route while driving. Not only is this illegal in every state it makes us no better than the other “D” drivers that put us at risk every day. Just because we are professional drivers and are in a rush to meet customer demands, that does not make us immune from becoming distracted drivers. The best solution is to have your navigation system integrated with your digital dispatch terminal for one touch navigation to your next destination.

Overcoming Emergency Brake Failure with Mico Brakes

micolock be596By Randall C. Resch

Fact: An emergency brake is only as good as its use and its working, mechanical condition.

In May 2018, a 3.2-million dollar lawsuit was levied against a tow company and major truck manufacturer as the result of a wrongful injury. The suit alleged a carrier’s E-Brake failed to hold as a carrier was parked. The carrier rolled downhill into another vehicle and the motorist was severely injured. The manufacturer blamed the tower; the tower blamed the manufacturer. Nonetheless, with the addition of an alternative E-Brake system, the injury and subsequent award may have been prevented.

All kinds of tragic situations can arise when either E-brakes fail or towers fail to use them. In 2019, when a tow operator stopped to make an adjustment to the vehicle in tow, the tow truck began to roll away, running over and killing the operator. In 2009, a carrier operator, returning to his shop at the end of a shift, didn’t set the truck’s E-Brake while its transmission was still in drive gear. As the operator opened the yard’s gate, the carrier began moving forward, pinning the tower between the carrier’s bumper and another vehicle. In 2002, a tow owner and 30-year veteran owner/operator were run-over by his own tow truck after his emergency brake failed to hold the truck in-place.

Clearly, when tow companies neglect to take care of their truck’s emergency brake systems, they are gambling with the lives of their personnel and the public. But when E-Brake’s work at optimum performance, they should hold the truck “in-place” when parked on level pavement. The more angled the driveway or road, the possibility of E-Brake failure increases and so chock blocks are a great addition when included in parking scenarios. Finally, you may want to consider using Mico Brakes (Mico Lever Locks) in conjunction with a truck’s E-brake system.

Mico Brakes are a hydraulic assisted E-Brake valve (add on) that, when the Lock's handle is activated and brakes are pumped, the pressure keeps the brakes applied like someone’s seated in the truck with their foot on the brakes. By design, Mico Brakes can be added to the truck's own emergency brake system(s). If the Mico Brake isn't maintained, though, they could bleed and not hold.

Early International's and GMC's that had transmission E-Brakes were famous for NOT holding. While modern tow trucks have better E-Brake systems, those old, iron tow trucks would certainly benefit from a Mico Brake or similar accessory to act as a secondary on-board system.

I believe in the extra safety the Mico Brakes (or any similar system) provide. I had them in all of my trucks as that backup system and they served me well. The same goes for Mico Brakes of old. But they are only as good as your company's maintenance and mandated use behind its purpose. 

For more information about the Mico Brake: https://www.mico.com/brake-lock-troubleshooting/lever-lock   

Daily Vehicle Inspections: Are They Really Needed?

checklist a98d6By Brian J Riker

As towers we spend a lot of time with our trucks, becoming very familiar with them and their quirks. We also often respond quickly when a call for service comes in due to the nature of our work. As such we may tend to overlook some basics such as the daily pre-trip inspection.

Is a daily pre-trip inspection actually required? Yes. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, specifically 392.7, require a driver to be satisfied a vehicle is safe and in good working order. The regulation has been interpreted to require daily pre-use inspection of the listed parts, accessories and systems of any commercial vehicle. This includes towed vehicles.

Specifically a driver must inspect, and be satisfied with the “good working order” of the following;

• Service brakes, including trailer brake connections
• Parking (hand) brake
• Steering mechanism
• Lighting devices and reflectors
• Tires
• Horn
• Windshield wiper or wipers
• Rear-vision mirror or mirrors
• Coupling devices
• Wheels and rims
• Emergency equipment

Additionally, the regulation also requires a driver to inspect all towed units for the same equipment regardless of the number of times a towed unit is exchanged or the distance towed. This means towers must inspect, as much as practical, each of these systems on every vehicle they tow with wheels on the ground.

So, what about the tow truck specific equipment like winch lines, straps, dollies and recovery equipment? I don’t see it listed above so I don’t have to inspect it, right? Wrong! Much of the tow truck specific equipment falls under either coupling devices (as tie down equipment, wheel lift, forks) or, in the case of dollies, wheels and rims.

In addition to the DOT requirements to inspect equipment prior to each use, several law enforcement contracts require a tower to respond with equipment that is in good working order. Even OSHA has a say in this, requiring operators to perform a pre-use inspection before using any type of tool or other equipment.

Even without regulations requiring a daily pre-use inspection it is good common sense to know the condition of your equipment. Whether you are an owner or employee, your livelihood and life depend on the condition of your truck and all the tools onboard. Having a faulty piece of equipment will cause you delays at best and injury or death to you and/or others at worst!

We have all seen the winch lines that are tangled up, kinked and in poor condition and know that is bad. Not only will that tangled mess keep you in harms way (side of the road) longer it may fail unexpectedly causing you to lose control of the vehicle you are winching.

What about other less obvious items on a tow truck?

One of the most often overlooked tools on a wrecker is the wheel dolly system. Most drivers dislike using dollies and try their best to forget they are even there until they really need them. This causes tires to be left low on air, wheel bearings to not be greased and other damages to be overlooked. [for more on dolly systems see the Nov. issue of American Towman Magazine]*

Bottom line, it is the driver’s responsibility to inspect their equipment before each shift to ensure it is in safe working order and they have all the proper tools and equipment necessary to properly do their job. Any deficiencies must be reported to the appropriate member of management immediately and safety critical deficiencies must be corrected before the equipment is used again.
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October 28 - November 03, 2020

Eye-catching Logo with Vision

00 eb82cBy George L. Nitti

Brian Foderingham, the deceased owner of Vision Wrecker Service, located in Baltimore, Md., began the company in 2015, after manifesting his vision of someday owning a business. For 15 years prior, he was a tow truck driver, working for others. Unfortunately, Foderingham passed away on May 31, 2020, from Covid-19. But his vision still lives on, through his company and the name that appears on his trucks.

Manager Charles Parrish, who has been entrusted with running the company since Foderingham’s passing, said, “Brian always wanted to name his company Vision Wrecker.”

To illustrate the concept, Foderingham came up with a conventional symbol of an eyeball to center his logo around, turning to Baltimore’s Harbor Signs and Graphics to carry out the concept.

So today, the company name is highlighted on the side of their black wreckers, a fleet of light duty vehicles that include 2 new rollbacks – 2020 Ford F450’s with a Century 301 Vulcan.

Although the space on the unit is limited, the company logo and design pops out on the side doors, particularly the blue lettering of the word “vision” and of course the enlarged eyeball that looks at you with a piercing gaze.

The eyeball serves as one letter in the company name, substituting for the letter “o,” a common technique in the graphic design business to generate a more compelling logo.

Other parts of it include a small tow truck wedged between the words “Wrecker Service.”

As manager of the company, Parrish, who has been involved in the business for over 30 years, also wants to cultivate a vision for Baltimore towers through participating in the legislative process.

He said, “Recently the legislative body added several amendments without public input.”

Parrish wants to change that, ensuring that the voice of towers is heard, working with several other tow companies to protest the lack of input from towers.

He said, “I want to work more on the legislation side of things. And I want to change the perception that people have of tow truck drivers. That’s my vision.”

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!

Undercurrents of Meaning

00 9c048By George L. Nitti

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

For Brian Slesinski, Sr., owner of Fastlane Towing of Collingsville, Il., a 2017 T880 Kenworth Twin Steer 75 Ton Century Rotator with six winches was an opportunity to do something very special.

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

Part of the essence of the design, skillfully rendered by airbrush artist Rhyno Templeton, replicates ingredients found on the 100 dollar bill, including the company name – “Fastlane Towing” - written above the United States of America, serial numbers that reflect the company’s DOT number, a 100 dollar symbol and other unique touches.

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

Instead of Ben Franklin, the icon of the $100 bill, Slesinski used the image of the Joker in order to symbolize that the joke is on you because he made it despite the challenges.

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

Beautifully rendered symbolism of a Peterbilt truck is found on the hood of the rotator and provides tribute to a couple of generations of family members, underscoring Slesinski’s commitment to family values.

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

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

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

Over the image of the legal tender, a large tow chain envelops this giant green unit with modern, zig-zagging lines giving it further artistic flavor while on the side doors, in a niftily written font, it states the name of the company – “Fastlane.”

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

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

Going the Extra Mile with Bel Air Towing

00 82702By George L. Nitti

In the fast-growing environs of Hernando, MS, 15 miles south of Memphis, TN, also near the Arkansas border, Bel Air Towing prides itself on its customer service while specializing in damage free towing for luxury, classic and sports cars, imports and exotics, including hot rods.

A one-man operation, the one and ½ year old company has quickly found its niche, carved out by owner Jason Johnston, who has always had a passion for old cars.

He said, “I like anything vintage. I have built tons of cars and have had to call plenty of tow trucks to have them moved around.”

One classic car on the top of his list is the name he has given his company: the classic 57’ Chevy Bel Air.

He said, “It’s the ultimate car convertible for me.”

It’s no wonder then that on the side of the company’s 2014 MS Freightliner with a Century 21ft. flatbed, its jumbo-sized logo pays homage to Johnston’s passion, a design taken from the 57’ Chevy Bel Air itself, particularly the large, memorable scripted lettering at the beginning of each of the words in its name.

He said, “I know the lettering has a ‘Retro’ feeling. On the back panel of the bed, the logo is more embellished, with the crest of the 57’ Chevy sitting behind it on a black diamond plate. I get a lot of compliments. Some say ‘It’s the pretty truck going down the road.’”

The logo, done in 3M reflective vinyl by local company Signs and Stuff, was designed by Graphic Disorder, which according to Johnston is “super well known in the hot rod world.”

Johnston, who has been cultivating his niche, said, “Since I have a background in show cars (they are real low to the ground) I’m kind of known in that circle. Many tow companies don’t want to touch them because of the added liability. I get all of the crazy stuff like a Mercedes Benz with an electronic shifter that you can’t mechanically manipulate. I get cars for Corvette. You can sit there and watch me NOT tear it up. I specialize in that.”

Johnston’s foray as a tower began as a seedling 15 years ago, after talking to a buddy who owned a towing company in Kentucky. After a long-time stint as a managing supervisor in a company that folded, Johnston decided to form Bel Air Towing with a focus on customer service.

On the company website, one will find a quote from legendary Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach that states, “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”

The “extra mile” refers to what Johnston calls customer service, the kind of service that gas station attendants provided when they came out to clean your windows and check your oil.

He said, “I’ve always been into good customer service. Around here if you are on a level 5, I want to be on a level 10. I do a lot of the extra stuff other companies won’t do.”

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!
October 28 - November 03, 2020

Joyride – Impound Auctions, the Smart Way

joyridepicture 31a85Joyride, a dedicated, highly-tailored, online unclaimed-vehicle auction platform and marketplace, is now active in nine major U.S. cities and rapidly expanding into new markets. Launched in Spring 2020, Joyride now has 14,000 active users and sold over 10,000 vehicles. Joyride provides an expanded buyer audience for sellers by proactively marketing to auto dismantlers, used vehicle dealers and car hobbyists within a larger geographic area. By creating greater demand. Joyride increases the average sale price of listed vehicles and quickly clears valuable space on impound lots. The platform integrates with existing systems and provides sellers with a seamless interface to list vehicle information, photos and videos. Joyride also provides robust, on-demand reporting to give sellers valuable insights into auction results.

“Joyride has enabled us to greatly expand our bidder base creating a more competitive landscape which has driven up the sale price of our inventory,” said Alanis Wrecker Service owner, Alex Alanis. “Implementation was very easy and it was simple to upload pictures. Vehicles were ready for online display in seconds and we are now conducting more profitable auctions.”

Joyride’s user-friendly, mobile responsive interface makes it easy and safe for auto dismantlers and vehicle enthusiasts alike to buy cars from the comfort of their home or office. Joyride provides buyers transparent pricing with no surprise fees. “We designed Joyride with both buyers and sellers in mind,” said Joyride Head of Operations, David Salin. “It’s not just software. We are energized by the momentum we are seeing of vehicle sellers across the country adapting to and appreciating the value of transitioning to our specialized online vehicle auction marketplace.”

For more information on how to become an authorized Joyride seller, email joyride@joyrideautos.com. Joyride, launched, in April 2020, is now successfully executing regular online unclaimed vehicle auctions in nine major U.S. cities – Fort Pierce, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and West Palm Beach – and is experiencing rapid product demand and growth.

Learn more at joyrideautos.com.

The Mico Lever Lock

ok 604b4The MICO Lever Lock, made by Mico, is designed to supplement a vehicle's standard parking brake by utilizing the hydraulic service brakes. Lever Locks are manually operated one-way check valves, which lock fluid under pressure in the selected brakes. Hand operation leaves the operator's feet free for clutch and throttle pedal operation. Lever Locks include one low pressure warning switch.

For more information, go to https://www.mico.com/brake-lock-troubleshooting/lever-lock

Webfleet Asset Tracking

webfleetassettracking product dba93Webfleet Solutions, one of the world’s leading telematics solution providers, is helping fleets reduce the risk of equipment theft and improper usage with a new capability for asset tracking within WEBFLEET. WEBFLEET Asset Tracking gives companies new ability to visualize the position and usage of their powered assets, such as trailers, generators and other equipment from a single interface with the position of vehicles and assets displayed on a clear map view.

With Asset Tracking, users can:

• Accurately locate assets
• Understand asset’s general usage for project handling
• Detect theft in time to take effective action
• Monitor their entire business from one interface.
• Track trailers that are not in use

With WEBFLEET Asset Tracking, fleet operators can choose to be alerted when an asset is being used, when it leaves a designated area or when any motion is detected. The user can find out the location of each asset in seconds, whether it’s on-site or off. Asset Tracking provides access to a detailed map, which provides visibility of where their assets have been, with position updates every five minutes on the map. If they want more detail, they can get instant reports 24/7 listing current position, trip, maintenance, input and all the other details regarding how the asset is being used. Customers can setup a maintenance notification based on the odometer, engine hours or time since the last maintenance – whatever is most suitable for judging that an asset needs to be serviced.

Trailers equipped with a LINK 340 device - a ruggedized tracker, which is dust, shock and waterproof - also provide coupled asset information, displayed automatically on the map for both truck and trailer. Users can easily identify which of their assets are connected to which vehicle, or which machine is being transported by which truck. This advanced new feature provides better control of the total transportation value chain for enhanced business efficiency, while increasing the accountability of drivers.

For more information, go to https://www.webfleet.com/en_us/webfleet/products/webfleet/features/asset-tracking/
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October 28 - November 03, 2020
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October 28 - November 03, 2020

Nissan to Pay for Wrongful [b]Repossessions

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) alleged that between 2013 and 2019, Nissan Motor’s lending unit “wrongly repossessed hundreds of consumers’ vehicles despite the consumer having made payment.” Although Nissan’s lending arm denied any wrongdoing, they agreed to pay $4 million to settle the allegations.

The CFPB charges include that Nissan repossessed vehicles within delinquency of 60 days when terms stipulated against that. In addition, they kept personal property in repossessed vehicles until consumers paid a storage fee, and deprived consumers paying by phone of the ability to select payment options with significantly lower fees."

The agency said actions violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act prohibition against unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The settlement imposes requirements "to prevent future violations and remediate consumers whose vehicles are wrongfully repossessed going forward," the bureau said.

https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com/

Tow Truck Driver Busted [b]for Hazardous Tow

Tow truck driver Joshua Moralles was arrested for a hazardous tow involving a teenage girl in Miami.

Coming to repossess the car, Moralles backed up his wheel lift into the vehicle while it was moving and the driver still behind the wheel.

The teenage girl said, “He starts reversing into me, and I start reversing because I’m like he’s going to crash into my car, and he lifts me up, gets it on the tow truck and lifts it up and everything, like something out of a movie.”

As this scene was transpiring, the girl called the police, who showed up.

According to the police report, the tow truck driver’s account of what happened didn’t match up with video surveillance in the neighborhood and he was arrested, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

https://wsvn.com/

Repo Men Encounter Gun [b]Shots in Georgia

In an attempt to repossess a 2011 Honda Accord on 9/24 in Athens, Ga., two repo men encountered gunshots, according to an Athens-County police report.

Repo man Michael Wilson and his partner located the vehicle and attempted to repossess it around 2:30 a.m.

At that time, the driver was in the car, and as Wilson approached to inform of the repossession, the driver “gassed” it, nearly hitting Wilson’s partner who was parked in a van. Then the driver stopped at an intersection.

“We heard three gunshots,” said Wilson, who sought safety in the nearby woods while his partner dropped to the ground.

Tracked by police, the car was found, along with heroin and methamphetamine, but the driver fled by foot.

Police have identified the 28-year-old Athens man and are pursuing warrants charging him with two counts of aggravated assault.

https://www.onlineathens.com/

Man Arrested for Assaulting [b]Repo Company

On Tuesday, 67 year old Christopher Denio was arrested by Bennington, Vt. Police after he allegedly threatened an employee of an auto repossession company with a rifle and shot out two tires of a company tow truck.

According to police dispatch, the repo men from Location Services, of Burnt Hills, N.Y. claimed that Denio tried to drive an SUV off the lift. Soon after, he obtained a rifle from a residence. When he returned, they stated that the barrel of the rifle was making contact with the driver side window while they were sitting inside the wrecker.

Denio then shot the driver side tire and passenger side tire, deflating each, telling the victims to "drop the SUV or I'll shoot you."

Denio was released on court-ordered conditions to appear in Vermont Superior Court Criminal Division to answer to charges of aggravated assault with deadly weapon, criminal threatening, unlawful mischief; reckless endangerment; persons prohibited from possessing firearms, and aiming a gun at another person.

https://www.benningtonbanner.com/
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