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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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Don't Let Desire Cloud Reality

phonecutcord e1079By Don Archer

If you take a look at the news recently, you'll see that things must be downright hard in Youngstown, Ohio, these days where some towers will stop at nothing to hurt the competition.

On Aug. 19, 2014, a local television station reported that Alex Bugno of Bugno's Towing was charged with disrupting public services and identity fraud.

He was accused of calling a competitor's mobile telephone service provider and posing as that competitor in order to have his phone service shut off. This was done during a weekend that the competitor, Ludt's Towing, was slated to be on police rotation.

I haven't spoken with Bugno, but if I did have a discussion with him I bet he would justify his alleged actions with something like, "It's tough to make it in the towing business. You have to use whatever you have at your disposal these days or you won't be around tomorrow."

If I'm wrong, I apologize—and please don't have my phones disconnected.

In all seriousness, the last time I called my mobile service provider to add a line to my account—before I was even allowed to talk to a representative—I had to wade through a flood of personal questions. Shutting down someone else's telephone service takes some doing.

It may seem that I'm in awe of his nefarious accomplishments, but I assure you I am not. My point: If Bugno was able to use all his energy and skill to do whatever it took to have a competitor's phone disconnected, then why couldn't he use that same energy and focus it for the good? He obviously had some sort of issue with Ludt's Towing—an issue he believed warranted these measures. But what could be so bad that you would risk jail and such bad press?

I understand that sometimes it seems like the deck is stacked against you, your back is against the wall, notes are due and the drivers need paychecks. But what's more important: Paying the notes or keeping your self-respect?

It's a decision we all have to make; when you mess up like Bugno is alleged to have done, you'll pay the price one way or another.

In the book "Good to Great" by James Collins, he interviews Vice Admiral James Stockdale, a Vietnam POW and Medal of Honor recipient. In the interview, Stockdale offers some pretty good advice: "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end ... with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your reality, whatever they might be."

Don't allow your desire to win at all costs to cloud your ability to see what's really happening. If you're not paying the notes and you're scraping by, then change something that's within your grasp—change something you're doing. If nothing works and you're just hanging on the bottom rung of the ladder, then get off the ladder and regroup. That's much better than losing your self-respect.

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

Center-Divider U-turns

UTurns 45518By Randall C. Resch

Flatbed carriers are lengthy and difficult to maneuver in U-turns (the operator typically must use several traffic lanes to make careful approach into openings of center dividers). U-turns are especially dangerous and typically banned by many states because of increased accident risk to motorists.

Completing a full U-turn requires that opposite lanes are clear of approaching traffic prior to tower's driving into opposite-side traffic lanes. With traffic at speeds of 80 mph, impact is imminent. More importantly, towers oftentimes forget that the carrier's deck remains in traffic lanes.

In May 2010, a Florida Highway Patrol investigation stated a flatbed carrier operator attempted to make an illegal U-turn in a center-median opening of the Florida Turnpike. The tower allegedly slowed to prepare for the U-turn in the center median, yet the carrier's deck was hanging in southbound traffic lanes. As a result, a following motorist hit the carrier's deck causing their van to roll. The motorist was killed; the tower was not injured.

In January 2014, a carrier operator allegedly attempted to make a U-turn in the center divider of Hawaii's Pali Highway. Per Hawaii law, U-turns in center dividers and medians are prohibited. A news account of the accident reported the tower slowed in traffic (near the fast lane) and entered the U-turn opening. While waiting for approaching traffic to clear, an elderly motorist hit the carrier from behind, shearing the roof off their vehicle. The impact caused the Toyota Yaris to spinout and it came to a stop on an embankment. The tow operator pleaded no-contest to causing the crash.

In investigations where vehicles are hit from behind, it's commonly thought that the striking motorist is at fault. Considering traffic moving at speed, a following motorist may not see the back end of the carrier protruding into traffic lanes after it crosses lanes. Obviously, center-divider openings aren't all that wide, requiring lengthy vehicles to swing wide to complete the turn. When viewed from varying angles, a flatbed carrier could be nearly invisible to following drivers.

In June 2015, California approved Vehicle Code Section 21719. (a) "Use of Shoulders by Tow Trucks," as being a necessary component of incident response. For tow trucks and flatbed carriers to lawfully use emergency shoulders, U-turn openings on California highways demanded specific wording. I've included the entire code for using shoulders, where allowable use of U-turn openings is covered. (Note: California tow trucks are not considered first responders.)

"Section 21719. (a) Notwithstanding any other law, in the event of an emergency occurring on a roadway that requires the rapid removal of impediments to traffic or rendering of assistance to a disabled vehicle obstructing a roadway, a tow truck driver who is either operating under an agreement with the law enforcement agency responsible for investigating traffic collisions on the roadway or summoned by the owner or operator of a vehicle involved in a collision or that is otherwise disabled on the roadway may utilize the center median or right shoulder of a roadway if all of the following conditions are met:

"(1) A peace officer employed by the investigating law enforcement agency is at the scene of the roadway obstruction and has determined that the obstruction has caused an unnecessary delay to motorists using the roadway.

"(2) A peace officer employed by the investigating law enforcement agency has determined that a tow truck can provide emergency roadside assistance by removing the disabled vehicle and gives explicit permission to the tow truck driver allowing the utilization of the center median or right shoulder of the roadway.

"(3) The tow truck is not operated on the center median or right shoulder at a speed greater than what is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the roadway, and in no event at a speed that endangers the safety of persons or property.

"(4) The tow truck displays flashing amber warning lamps to the front, rear, and both sides while driving in the center median or right shoulder of a roadway pursuant to this section.

"(b) For purposes of this section, "utilize the center median" includes making a U-turn across the center median."

California's law is specific for use of shoulders and center-divider U-turns. This training topic demands towers understand the full meaning and requirements of their own state's laws. The key here is "authorization." Remember, although you may have permission by the requesting agency to use either, you are completely responsible for safe-vehicle operations. U-turns on high-speed highways is a dangerous practice. My best advice for safety to all: drive to the next exit for return.
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