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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJune 21 - June 27, 2017

City, State
Sheridan, IN
(Pop. 2,665)
Eastsound, WA
(Pop. 4,500)
Blackwood, NJ
(Pop. 4,545)
Byron, GA
(Pop. 2,887)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.

A Tower's Willingness to Serve 3e100By Randall C. Resch

Some things I hold dear to my heart are my memories from my police career. Here's a short story about two towers whose abilities were at opposite ends of the service spectrum.

I worked a two-officer patrol unit in a police ambulance long before San Diego city had paramedics. One afternoon, we made a traffic stop of a middle-aged woman who wouldn't show her license and refused to sign a ticket I'd written. Like most states, when you refuse to sign, you generally go to jail. In this case, Miss Blondie became a full-blown, psychotic drama queen, whose yelling caused a crowd of shoppers to gather to watch this humorous spectacle.

One thing I've prided myself in is a gift of temperance; I wasn't gonna let this lunatic get the best of me. So, I formulated a plan and knew just what to do: I'd request one of our local towers to impound the car ... with her in it.

By now, numerous street-gawkers were watching the situation unfold. We were at a standoff; however, we weren't about to drag this woman from her vehicle with everyone present.

Initiate Plan "A"

Without making it too challenging, once the tow truck arrived I instructed the tow operator to load the vehicle with her inside onto dollies and tow it to his yard with our sergeant and us following.

Because it wasn't a usual hook-and-go activity, the young driver stated he couldn't do such a thing even though we gave him authorization to do so.

Frustrated with the first tower's unwillingness to load the vehicle, my partner sent him away and I requested another company respond quickly without delay.

As time progressed, this scenario became laughable. The woman (eventually identified as a local doctor's wife) was in complete hysteria. We knew we'd better work fast or we'd have a riot on our hands.

Tower No. 2 quickly showed up. I gave him instructions and he went to work without hesitation. His ever-widening grin told me he was enjoying this task even though she turned her animated aggression on him. Ultimately, the Cadillac and its irrational driver were headed toward the tow yard; she pounded the steering column and screamed the entire way.

You see, back then, police-initiated overaggression wasn't the proper tool for this situation, so, we opted to let her sit in the hot sun for an hour or so. She eventually ended her tirade long enough for me to explain that her only remaining option was sign the ticket or go to jail. As she continued questioning my parentage, she reluctantly signed the ticket, and then, paid the tow bill.

That entire circus-filled fracas was something far beyond the norm, but that's what police work is. Cops want towers who are problem-solvers and ready to serve by thinking outside the box. If you tow for the police, your only response should be, "Yes sir, officer; step back and let me get to work."

Next time, tower No. 2 gets the job.

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. Randall was inducted into the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame in 2014.

What's Your Company's Cellphone Policy?

tbo2 70b09By Randall C. Resch

While we're quick to climb on the bandwagon and blame distracted drivers failing to move over and cause tow operator fatalities, it's commonplace to see tow operators talking on their cellphones while driving, loading, unloading or recovering vehicles.

Use of personal cellphones in today's workplace is prevalent and interrupts employee focus and efficiency. By the very nature of what tow operators do, the combined use of cellphones with tow truck operations is a dangerous practice.

If reproaching motorists for distracted driving is an ongoing practice by towers, shouldn't there be a demand for towmen not to be distracted in the same way?

The Rules Say

It's simple to accept that when a company's Employee Handbook doesn't address the issue of prohibiting on-duty cellphone use, doing so may not violate a company's rules or procedures. If a company cellphone is provided to a driver and you require your drivers or employees to use it, a different set of guidelines and actions may be necessary.

Some companies supply employees with phones and stipulate that minimum personal use is OK. Some say, "No way!" Others monitor phone records. That's fine; but what designates dangerous use vs. social and untimely, in-the-way, distracting conversations at the wrong time?

I believe social interraction and roadside safety are at opposing ends of the sepctrum.

Towing and recovery businesses should demand that employees focus on the duties and activities of their position at all times. Personal cellphones tend to get in the way of an employee's ability to conduct work. Policy should be directed at limiting cellphone use only during the employee's breaks, on lunch, for emergency purposes and official business.

Employees should not use cellphones for personal business, unless for monitoring children, elderly or sick parents. Calls should be limited when involved in company activities. Much of an employee's use during company hours should be left to an honor system and not abused.

As driving and talking on cellphones proves to be a consistent cause of distracted driving and traffic accidents, tow drivers should be required to pull off the roadway away from traffic to conduct business conversations. Remember, if the ignition's on and you're on the cellphone ... well, you know the drill. Drivers who are cited for talking on cellphones or texting while driving are responsible for the outcome of the citation.

At-fault accidents generate point deductions where determined by the investigating officer on-scene or the DMV. Any accident caused by cellphone or texting use is considered an at-fault accident and chargeable to the driver's motor vehicle report point count. An at-fault accident can result in disciplinary action or dismissal if deemed not insurable by the company's insurance provider.

Using them for on-scene photos could be conisdered a violation of law enforcement contracts when not authorized.

Mechanics and forklift operators should not use cellphones while driving, loading or conducting off-loading activities. If it's necessary to talk with a supervisor or dispatcher related to recovery scenes or customer interractions, recovery actions should remain separate until conversations are completed.

A tow operator's on-scene responsibilities are too important to include cellphone conversation. Sure, cellphones are a necessary evil and I highly doubt that management can control their use 100 percent of the time. However, setting small yet reasonable guidelines and expectations should not be considered excessive.

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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