The Week's Features
Ornate graphics and Ben Franklin make for a colorful look
Towman gets cut off … by the improbable
Don’t waste time and a driver to deliver extra cable
New series capable of handling up to 37,500 lbs.
Submissions open until April 1; will be announced at Dallas event
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May 8-11, 2019
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August 15-17, 2019
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Dec. 4-8, 2019
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With the rampant increase in distracted driving towers need every advantage available to avoid costly accidents. Tow Industry Week Business Editor Brian J. Riker gives a presentation on the dynamic nature of tow trucks when loaded v. empty, following distance and other traffic hazards surely could help prevent some crashes. Join him for his seminar, “Defensive Driving/Driving Professionalism,” during Tow Industry Week, taking place at the American Towman ShowPlace, May 8-11 at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingMarch 20 - March 26, 2019

City, State
RATES
Portage, IN
$125
(Pop. 36,828)
Monrovia, CA
$180
(Pop. 36,590)
Bowling Green, OH
$95
(Pop. 30,028)
Panama City, FL
$87.50
(Pop. 36,484)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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Mitigating Risk in Towing

images2 70038By Randall C. Resch

What does mitigating risk mean as it applies to towing and recovery operations? What steps does your company take to control or prevent hazards from causing harm and reduce risks to acceptable levels?

A Midwest tow company runs 10 tow trucks and carriers from a service station facility. When the company gets busy, they rely on the company's mechanics to jump in their trucks to help out. Neither the company's tow operators nor mechanics have any formal outside training because all training is done in-house.

Do you see a potential problem with their operations? Are they headed for disaster?

One of the primary reasons tow truck companies and their insurance providers stack up millions of dollars in punitive damages is because they can't provide proof of training and some level of driver competency when an incompetent operator's actions result in an accidental death or injury.

Some tow companies have little to no formal training requirements because it's easier and/or cheaper not to send drivers to a formal class. The company's lead trainer may have years of experience—but is not officially recognized as a certified trainer.

Many companies also fall short in taking action against improper behaviors and actions. When a serious violation, incident or accident occurs, management can't prove that there was any immediate corrective action or remedial training.

In today's litigious society, companies should understand the importance of teaching drivers how to perform at the highest levels of proficiency. Initial training and a solid "sign-off program" is key in providing documentation that training took place.

Companies that neglect to provide formal training to their personnel are setting themselves up for failure and financial loss. In-house training should only be considered supplementary to that of an industry-recognized safety class. Upon completion of such courses, certificates of completion are a company's proof that training was obtained.

When a serious accident or incident occurs, typically the very first place of attack is determining the tow operator's level of training (if any). Monetary awards are oftentimes determined based on a tower's training.

Obviously, the more training a tow operator receives, the higher their on-the-job-competencies are scrutinized. But I'd rather have some level of formal training vs. no formal training at all. Risk mitigation begins with a desire to keep the entire company safe through diligence in training, documentation and supervision.

Risk mitigation comes in all sizes; it takes an owner's proper mindset to ensure tow operators are working safely within the standards of the towing and recovery industry. Building an employee training file is a great thing to have and easy to do.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, and is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame.
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Spare Cable for Recovery Scenarios

TowBusinessOperations cfe41By Randall C. Resch

Last month, I propped myself in a tow company's office chair, only to be entertained by the orchestrated chaos that was going on during an unexpected rainstorm.

The company's veteran dispatcher worked the phones, radios and computers with ease and grace like a maestro. The office beeped, honked and sounded common to a busy dispatch office and the dispatcher didn't miss a tick. She miracously had everything flowing smoothly, and then, in an instance, things changed.

Although calls were stacked creatively, everything was running seemingly perfect until the company's senior driver called to request extra cable. It seems that the tower was far from the company's facility and couldn't complete an off-road recovery. His tow truck's winch cable plus all the truck's chain was nearly 50' short of reaching the casualty.

When you're that far away from what you need, it's definitely an inconvenience that has to be solved. Things quickly turned to "robbing Peter to pay Paul" in trying to find an available driver to return to the shop, load up extra cable and get it delivered to the waiting driver.

To me, that's a huge waste of energy, resources and driver availability that could have been prevented by a little bit of pre-planning and minimal investment.

Spare Cable 101

Savvy tow owners prepare their trucks with extra lengths of wire rope that's neatly stowed in the tow truck's side boxes.

There may be an extra length of useable cable that was previously removed from one of your company's winches when it was readied for inspections. If the cable's condition wasn't too bad for winching purposes, it easily serves this re-purposing.

Here are two cable options that satisfy the dilemma of not being equipped with spare cable:

Option One: 50' to 100'

1. Take a spare, 14" tire from a small foreign car and separate the car tire from the rim. For spare-sized tires, a length of cable (up to 100') can neatly be wound inside the spare tire's diameter.

2. At the cable's non-hook end, have a proportionate sized, rated cable thimble, swaged to the cable's non-hook end; where the thimble will accept a standard-sized tow hook. This can be done by any local and reputable cable loft.

3. Wind the spare cable's entire length, loop end first, into the spare tire, and stow it at the bottom of a side box and in a location that's reachable to the tow operator.

Option Two: 50' or Less

1. Find a non-serviceable dolly tire that's lying around waiting to be re-purposed. Separate the dolly tire from its rim.

2. Take a 50' length of (prepared) cable and wind the cable inside of the dolly-tire, non-hook end first, until the entire length of cable is stowed inside the dolly tire's diameter.

3. In the same manner the 100' roll of cable was stowed in the tow truck's side box, the smaller 50' roll is positioned atop the 100-footer.

Finally, using a colored marking crayon mark the outside of each tire with the cable's length.

Stack, Store and Deploy

It's best to be equipped for those not-so-normal incidents, like when a police officer requests 35' of cable ... and it's actually 135'. When you're in a carrier, the extra length of cable makes perfect sense in hitting those difficult challenges head on.

I recommend that all wreckers, carriers and off-road trucks are minimally outfitted with two 100' lengths and two 50' lengths of extra wire rope, totaling 300' of additional cable that's ready to rock at a moment's notice. With spare cable neatly coiled, spare rounds are easily carried to the winch site where it's deployed as neatly as it stows.

(Note: I knew that the cable's hook was missing its safety clip in the above photo, but it was my only visual aid at the time this narrative was written. If you observed that the clip was missing, you go to the head of the class ... but the narrative still stands.)

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.
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