The Week's Features
Three-time cancer survivor is doing what he loves
App, web-based service provides lien-holder contact information
Digital Recognition Network CEO lays out company's vision
Unit designed to bring greater awareness to Move Over law
Buddy's gets farmer's tractor with corn silage in open field
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingAugust 23 - August 29, 2017

City, State
Bronx, NY
(Pop. 1,438,159)
Charlotte, NC
(Pop. 809,958)
Baltimore, MD
(Pop. 622,104)
San Jose, CA
(Pop. 1,015,785)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.

Towing Rate Caps = Bad Idea

PhotocreditAP 441dfBy Don Archer

What exactly is a rate cap? A rate cap is the maximum amount allowable by law that a tower can charge for towing and related services. A rate cap doesn't necessarily have to be a law; it can be a cap imposed by a city in the form of a contractual requirement for participation in a rotation.

Towers all over the country have experienced rate caps in one form or another. From private-party impounds, non-consensual rotation tows to consensual tows in some areas—they're all put in place to "protect" the motorist from being "gouged."

But the negative consequences outweigh the positives.

Increased secondary accidents

The root cause of the secondary accident is the existence of the first, the primary accident. Many efforts have been made to decrease the numbers of primary accidents. There are speed limits and laws against texting and inattentive driving. Millions of dollars have been spent in every state to install rumble strips, safer entrances and exits, cables between four-lane highways and signs that let a motorist know when they're going too fast.

But what about secondary accidents? What can be done to lower the number of secondary accidents?

The easy answer here is to remove the distraction from the road as quickly as possible. To do that, you need willing tow truck operators available at a moment's notice.

When you set rate caps, you're lowering the amount of money a tower is allowed to charge—taking away his ability to make a good living. When you take away his incentive to participate, you're decreasing the number of towers available to do the work.

Decreased proficiency

A few years back, I dispatched a new operator to change a tire on a lady's Camry. He removed the lug nuts and pulled on the wheel but it wouldn't come off. He did everything right but couldn't remove the wheel from the hub—it was as if they were fused together.

He called for help and was told to sit on his hands in front of the wheel (this was in her driveway) and kick the tire on one side and then the other, alternating from side to side to loosen it up. Miraculously that did the trick and he was able to finish the job.

Job proficiency and the ability to problem-solve comes with time, training and experience. If those with the knowledge and expertise necessary to do the work leave the industry because rate caps have driven them into other professions—is it really in the taxpayers' best interest?

Suppose it was a tractor-trailer on its side crossing four lanes at drive time. You'd want someone who knew what they were doing solving the problem.

Fewer towers in times of weather emergency

There are those rare occasions when motorists are happy to know that tow trucks exist, such as when they're 20' down an embankment due to white-out conditions. Only then do they thank their lucky stars that a tow truck just rolled on scene.

Burden on the state

Rate caps are regulations enforced by the government with the stated purpose of stopping towers from gouging taxpayers. But is that their true intention? Are governments really so magnanimous? Or is it that they can't stand the competition?

Governments grow by increasing their scope. The United States government and every state government are looked to by millions of citizens for support and protection. They want much more than just protection—and it's by design.

Over the last couple of hundred years, governments have steadily expanded their scope from that of protector to that of provider. With that expansion, the dependency of the citizens has increased to expect more and more—thereby increasing the government's power.

So it would seem that attempts at reasoning with government as to the negative results of rate caps would be fruitless. They're in a no-lose situation. They tax us. They regulate us. The next step is to subsidize us.

Don't let that last part lull you into a false sense of security. A subsidy for those in the towing industry isn't like giving money to the farmers. For the most part, the farmers got to keep their own land. Towers? They'll just replace us with their own people. It's already happened in a few places.

The term "burden on the state" is absurd in this sense because they'll be getting what they want: expanding their scope. The real burden will be on the taxpayers. They will have placed their faith in government, believing that rate caps were in place to save them money and protect them against evil towers.

But once governments are running the show, they'll be paying much more.

Increased insurance premiums

It's long been the mantra of the insurance companies that rate caps help keep insurance premiums down. Unregulated towing rates rain chaos on actuarial tables.

But as opportunity slowly erodes from the towing industry, fewer will participate. With a decrease in the number of quality towers available to clear accidents quickly, there will be an increase in the incidences of secondary accidents. With more accidents, insurance companies will pay more in claims.

Soon, their lobbyists will cry foul and call for something to be done. A huge shift will begin.

With the evolution of towing from a private sector industry to public, cities and states will take advantage of this new revenue source. When they're in charge of towing they'll remove rate caps. They must because they'll be required to purchase real estate, trucks and equipment. And once the light bulb comes on—and cities and states realize the requirements to participate in the towing industry—rates will go up again.

Don Archer lives and works in Jefferson City, Mo., where he and his wife, Brenda, own and operate Broadway Wrecker, a 12-truck operation that's been in business since the 1950s. Email him at

The Spirit Ride Represents All Towmen

SpiritRidecasket 0c722By Randall C. Resch

Having recently experienced the loss of San Diego tower and friend Fred Griffith and New Orleans, La. tow operator Macy Lee Alvey III, (killed seven days apart by DUI motorists with multiple convictions), I write to invite you to participate in a very special program important to tow companies and tow operators everywhere.

As towers continue to lose their lives for selfish and meaningless reasons, American Towman and B/A Products have launched the "Spirit Ride," an initiative effectively calling on motorists to observe the Move Over laws.

The Spirit Ride is designed to bring the world's towers together by transporting a custom-made memorial casket, "Spirit," throughout designated cities across America.

I spoke about the initiative at the Captains of Industry dinner during November's American Towman Exposition in Baltimore, Md.; I am passionate about this topic, and it's appropriate to stress its importance to everyone here at home and across the world with Spirit Ride.

Having counted and confirmed more than 250 tow-operator fatalities on American and Canada's highways; Spirit Ride is a way all towers and companies can participate in the message of Slow Down Move Over.

In another way to honor Griffith, Alvey, all our lost brothers and sisters and the world's first responder community as a whole, we at American Towman invite you, America's law enforcement community, as well as television stations throughout the country to attend events as it rolls across America.

Please visit American Towman's website,, to see what the rolling procession is about and what it takes to get involved.

If you're not available to physically participate in the rolling procession, you're invited to become a sponsor to support this event. Spirit Ride is a non-profit venture of American Towman Spirit Inc., a 501c3 charitable corporation, so sponsor fees are tax deductible and will help support all costs of the Spirit Ride project.

I wholeheartedly support Spirit Ride's message and I invite you to get actively involved. Check out Spirit Ride's website and jump into the convoy with your own spirit and both feet. Spirit Ride might just be that once-in-a-lifetime industry event you won't want to miss.

Here's wishing you all continued safety and survival on the world's highways.

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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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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