The Week's Features
Tow Expo Dallas' winning trucks are highlighted
Towman Scott Shover is being called "a guardian angel"
Redi-Letters' lighted signs easily mount on wreckers
Suspending auto repos of clients impacted by Hurricane Harvey
Or, do government controls actually work?
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In his seminar, "Dispatching, GPS and Mapping Innovations," Todd Althouse of Beacon Software will take a look at how a dispatch office has changed in the last 20 years. He'll review modern tools available to dispatchers, such as GPS locations, PTO activity, computer-assisted dispatch for driver recommendations and much more to improve efficiencies. This Management Conference seminar will take place at the American Towman Exposition, November 17-19 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland–register today!
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingSeptember 20 - September 26, 2017
San Antonio, Texas, Councilman John Courage believes AutoReturn will help the city’s impound lot improve in accountability and service. news4sanantonio image.

San Antonio Turns [b]to AutoReturn

A local TV report, News 4 Trouble Shooters, in San Antonio, Texas, found in July that impound vehicles in the city were being improperly sold from the main impound lot without owners being notified. The station said the city now is dropping the contractor operating the facility.

United Road Vehicle Management Solutions has had the contract to run the Growdon impound lot for almost 10 years. Now the San Antonio police department is recommending city council replace it with another contractor at the end of the month.

The investigation found dozens of cases where UR VMS failed to send two notification letters to car owners and lien holders before it auctioned off at least 67 vehicles. SAPD brought the weekly auctions to a temporary halt and launched an audit.

SAPD officials told a city council committee recently they evaluated three bids, including one from the current contractor. The News 4 Trouble Shooters reported that SAPD has chosen Alaniz Wrecker Service, partnered with Auto Return, to run that impound lot.

"I do honestly believe that the customers will get better service, the accountability that they expect," said District 9 Councilman John Courage. "They'll get mail or calls or notified properly."


Tower Dies After [b]Crashing Into Woods

Traffic was halted after a deadly accident on I-295 in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, shutting down one northbound lane.

The accident occurred around 7:50 p.m. when a flatbed tow truck went off the road into the surrounding woods. A forklift attached to the truck came loose and crashed into the cab, officials said.

Crews worked to remove the driver who was trapped in the cab of the truck.

The driver was then pronounced dead at the scene.

No word on what caused the crash or the identity of the driver.


Towman: 'I hope they catch you'

An Indianapolis, Indiana, towman had his leg amputated after being hit by a semi on I-70 two weeks ago.

Indiana State Police said the driver of the semi didn't bother to stop.

The 53-year-old tow truck driver told local TV news he's been in the hospital recovering from his injuries ever since. Doctors had to amputate his left leg.

Jack Deaton hopes the driver of the semi sees this story and knows the pain and damage the driver caused by hitting him and leaving the scene.

"I just can't believe this happened to me," Deaton said. "I really don't. ...

"The semi, I don't know where he come from, but he came along and got me and just twist me," Deaton said. "I yelled so loud that he hit his brakes, but he got me again and he just kept on going again."

Dash cam video from his tow truck shows the 18-wheeler semi that hit him as he was getting ready to move the truck bed on the right shoulder of the interstate.

Deaton said he would not be here today had it not been for a customer on scene.

"She came over and she seen my leg all twisted up and everything and I was bleeding really bad and she's sitting there like, 'I'm a nurse,' " he said.

The nurse helped him while they waited for an ambulance to arrive, but Deaton said he knew his left leg was gone.

"I already knew it when the ambulance came and pick me up and I looked down and seen my leg twisted it was laying on top of my other leg," he said.

Deaton said he doesn't understand why the driver of the semi didn't do the right thing in the first place.

"He seen my lights on he knew I was doing a job he didn't have to do that he had two lanes to go over," he said.

Deaton said he's thankful he's alive and now has a message for the driver of the semi.

"I hope they catch you," said Deaton. "If they don't, the Lord will take care of you I promise you that."


NTSB: Autopilot Key in Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board's finding that Tesla's Autopilot shares the blame for a fatal crash with a truck in Florida last year underscores the need for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards covering automated driver assistance technologies, Consumer Watchdog said.
The NTSB's findings came an hour before the Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released new autonomous vehicle guidance, "A Vision for Safety 2.0," which explicitly ignored so-called Level 2 technologies like Autopilot.

At the DOT-NHTSA news conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announcing the new federal voluntary self-driving guidelines, an NHTSA spokesman said the agency hadn't yet reviewed the NTSB findings.

"NHTSA should have been a partner with the NTSB in this investigation, but they were not," said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project Director. "Instead they're asleep at the wheel and didn't even bother to address Level 2 technologies in their new voluntary guidance."

NTSB chair Robert Sumwalt said the Tesla's "operational limitations played a major role in this collision." The board unanimously recommended that automakers be required to limit the use of partially self-driving technology by ensuring that drivers are actively engaged in driving at all times. The board concluded that Tesla's method of making sure the driver's hands are periodically on the wheel is not enough. A possible solution could be a camera that tracks eye movement.


Memorial Procession [b]in Pennsylvania

In East Lampeter, Pennsylvania, towers honored one of their own: Ralph Watrous II. Watrous, 44, was a tower for Mack's Tire Service.

He was on the side of Route 222 in Lancaster County getting ready to tow a broken-down car when Watrous and his customer both were hit by a car and killed.

William McNeill, the owner of Mack's Tire Service, said, "He's the glue to the company. He held everybody together. He's just an all-around great guy. We're gonna miss him dearly."

Watrous' family and friends drove through Lancaster County to remember him; following behind them were more than 100 tow trucks.


No-Cost Lienholder Searches wishes to remind towers in the wake of the recent hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters that, in case it is needed, they will find vehicle lienholders at no cost.

When you're looking for lienholders and owners on abandoned vehicles in order to mail them notifications on the towed vehicles and their locations or pending sales/scrapping, wants to help. is a free web-based service that uses a VIN or tag to electronically identify the lienholder and email them via e-receipt and send lienholder/registered owner info back to the user.
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WreckMaster President Justin Cruse said that the WreckMaster Convention will bring together towers from all over North America to provide a unique and beneficial opportunity to broaden knowledge.
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