The Week's Features
But New York State towmen vow to continue fight
The severity of the damage made this a difficult recovery
Company name starts the creative process for graphics company
New Justice Gorsuch renders first opinion in ruling
IQV20 kits designed to provide versatility
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJune 21 - June 27, 2017

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Recruiting and Hiring Drivers

IMG 1948 00976By Don G. Archer

Hiring and retaining drivers who meet the requirements necessary to do the job, properly, starts with an effective interview process. To ensure that business owners aren't guilty of negligent entrustment, here are a few suggestions for conducting those job searches.

The first step in the interview process is preparing the list of requirements an applicant must meet to be considered for the position. Your list will be unique to your company's specific needs; but to attract the cream of the crop, be careful not to set the bar too low.

Examples of requirements could include that the applicant be friendly and outgoing, self-reliant and responsible. He or she also should have a good work history, minimum three years driving experience, minimum three years customer service experience, a clean driving record, be able to pass a drug test and have a clean criminal record.

You are not only looking for someone who can do the work, but someone who is searching for long-term employment. Your requirements should include language like: career-minded individual, full-time position and long-term employment.

Once you've created a list of requirements and placed ads, the next step is the interview process.

Before you spend time and money verifying the information is accurate, conduct an interview if they look like they might be a good fit. Most applicants will be on their best behavior during the interview, so take your time and gain as much information as to who they really are before pulling the trigger.

One way to do this is to conduct a multi-step interview.

The first interview could be between the applicant and the shop manager. Then, if a second interview is warranted, it might be with both the owner and the shop manager. You could even go so far as to include a third interview, where a road test is administered.

For this procedure to be effective, there must be a sufficient amount of time between interviews. Somewhere between three days and one week works best.

Run the MVR and get through as much of the screening process as you can before conducting the second interview. After you've done your due-diligence, make the call.

The multi-step interview process allows you more access to the applicant and time to gather behind-the-scenes information, like the applicant's interest in the position and their ability to follow-through. After an applicant has made it through the process and is offered the job, it also imbues them with a sense of accomplishment.

With each step of the interview process impress upon the applicant employment that requirements are to be maintained throughout their time with your company. Failing to meet them at any point is grounds for termination.
• Stress that safety isn't just a good idea—it's part of the job.
• Ask about previous employment and reasons for leaving.
• Reiterate the need for delving into the applicant's background.
• They'll need to pass a drug test, and will be subject to random drug screenings throughout their employment.
• Reinforce responsibilities with regards to maintaining licenses and the need for having a current medical card.
• Inform the applicant that your company requires a clean driving record going back a minimum of three years, and that you will be requesting annual MVRs.
• Ask open-ended questions like, "What has to take place over the next three years for your time spent with our company to have been a success?"
• Ask about their strengths and weaknesses.
• Observe their cellphone and texting habits.
• Inform applicant of any ongoing training they'll be required to take.
• Have the applicant take a road test.
• Talk about the company and your plans for the future.

After you've conducted the interviews and have decided you want to make the hire, ensure that all the requirements have been met. Did the MVR come back clean? Was the drug screening a success? Is your insurance company willing to insure the applicant?

Once you've thoroughly exhausted every available resource to vet the applicant, make the call and welcome your new hire aboard.

But this is only the beginning.

Once you've made the hire, create a new driver file, where you'll keep all the requirements of the new hire. The background check, drug screening report, MVR, results of the road test, copy of the medical examiner's certificate, approval letter from your insurance company and everything else you required.

Once you've hired the right person, follow through and make a habit of regularly updating their driver file. Run annual MVRs, conduct drug tests and safety training and do all you can do to stay on top of it. This will allow you to be aware of any policy infractions if and when they occur, so you can take proper steps to remedy the situation.

American Towman Field Editor-Midwest Don G. Archer is also a multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. E-mail him direct at


123 25928By Randall C. Resch

"A motorist is almost 20-times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle," according to a statement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

So, what can tow operators do to better their survival odds when working railway incidents?

There's a video on YouTube that shows a carrier working an accident recovery within inches of live train tracks. The tower is inside the cab of the carrier and makes no attempt to escape, while there's either sufficient room to load the vehicle from the opposite end vs. waiting until access is available.

A news article reported that the driver alleged police made him go to the front to load vs. stopping traffic within the intersection to load the vehicle from the rear.

If you were the tower, what alternative solutions would you have provided to the police officer to keep you or your truck from being hit by the train?

Why take chances?

First consideration should come from the dispatch office in regards to what assets should be sent to railway incidents. Maybe an on-scene safety manager is necessary? Recovery time should be the quickest possible, but loading a carrier on or near the tracks could be deadly.

Regardless as to the nature of the rail-involved recovery, dispatch should know to send the best tow operator and not the new driver.

Sometimes tow trucks and flatbed carriers don't mix with railroad right of way. Low clearances for carriers and tow trucks with low-slung fuel tanks could become snagged on the tracks, causing further risk.

While advanced notice may be passed down from the tow company to the local police, word may not get to the train's operator in time to stop the train. It takes as much as a full mile to stop a moving train; putting your faith in the train to stop is a deadly gamble.

The following examples are rail-involved jobs that resulted in tow operator fatality:
November 2016; Miami, Fla.: When a tow truck arrived to transport a vehicle from an earlier crash, a passing train clipped the bed of the truck, sending a car flying. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office reported that the railroad was notified of the accident scene, but was not contacted in time to get the train stopped.

October 2015; Toronto, Canada: A tow operator was killed after his tow truck was inadvertently parking partially on the tracks. When he noticed the approaching train and realized his truck was in its path, the driver hopped back into the truck to move it but was too late.

May 2015; Amite City, La.: A tow operator driving a flatbed carrier passed across the tracks directly in the path of an Amtrak train. The crossing did not have cross bucks.

December 2012; Cardiff, Calif.: A 27-year-old tow operator, mistakenly parked his carrier on a rail right-of-way. When he saw the train coming, he jumped into the cab to drive off but was struck broadside.

March 2013; Crawford, Texas: A tow operator responded to tow a disabled vehicle and accidentally drove onto an unprotected rail crossing and was struck by a BNSF train.

I can't say never when it comes to rail recoveries. However, the best and safest option may be to park well off the tracks and consider winching the vehicle away from them. Evaluate your approach so to remain completely away from a train or trolley. Be aware that if a train does hit the casualty vehicle, the impact could drag the tow truck or carrier as well.

Rail crossings are extremely dangerous; always anticipate a train may be coming from another direction.

Rail crossing scenarios demand towers make the right choices. Before taking any action, have a plan as to how to get the recovery completed safely in the quickest amount of time, and always be aware of an approaching train. Remember, there's no guarantee that the train's engineer is aware that you are working a rail incident.

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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