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Join American Towman Field Editor Randall Resch as he shows how to avoid sloppy actions on-scene, questionable vehicle operations and chances that tower’s repeatedly take with his “Wreckers in Trouble” seminar, taking place Friday Nov. 16 at 11 a.m. during the American Towman Exposition at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingNovember 14 - November 20, 2018

White Line Fatalities Continue to Stack

mqdefault ab24fBy Randall C. Resch

Repeat training is necessary. I repeatedly try to teach a positive and long-lasting safety mindset to towing and recovery professionals. I'm confident in saying that the amount and availability of safety training in this industry is more than ample, and ... it's the best it's ever been.

That being the case, why do towers fail to heed the known dangers by continuing to work in harm's way when working on the shoulders of high-speed freeways?

Towers should have the life-saving mentality of what it takes to be as safe as possible. There are literally hundreds of tow operator fatalities to focus on cause and reaction. As fatalities continue to occur, I'm extremely discouraged to see that tow operators openly continue to place themselves unnecessarily in harm's way.

Most highway patrol agencies across America now require rotation tow operators to attend and complete the national Traffic Incident Management training. Although TIM training is great for those who allow its message to sink in, even the best trained tow personnel are still being killed due to their own complacency, short cuts or lack of a solid on-scene safety mentality.

In May 2017, two operator fatalities took place only six days apart. Not only were these tow operators allegedly standing or working on the white line-side of their tow trucks, they were reportedly standing in a traffic lane when they were struck.

In one fatality the tower killed was the owner of his own company and also a rotation tower for the California Highway Patrol. In his fatality, the flatbed carrier noticeably encroached into the lane of travel and the tower was said to be standing in the traffic lane reportedly at the white line controls. Witnesses don't remember if he was wearing a reflective vest.

Towers interviewed by the media continue to blame the motoring public for failing to heed Move Over laws. While true that the motoring public isn't reacting to what their state laws require, all the available safety training isn't getting through. I'm discouraged that towers themselves don't heed the word of safety.

What Others Say

I spend a lot of time reading about accidents, incidents and explanations regarding tow operator strikes and fatalities. I'm constantly amazed when posts blame the lack of slow-down move-over laws or colored lighting for causing tow operator deaths. It's extremely rare if a tower or commenter has anything to say about operators standing on the white line or placing themselves in a compromised location.

It irks me to read a tower's obituary that describes them as the most safety-conscious tower in their company; but, in many cases it was their lack of on-scene awarnesses that resulted in their death.

Towers: wise up to what's at stake here and get a grip.

The reality is simple; Move Over laws don't work. Distracted and drunk driving is here to stay, so it's that much more important that tow operators heed the lessons of past roadside fatalities.

What are you doing to try and save your own life? This is a question that only you can answer regardless as to what training certificate you have in your file.

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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