The Week's Features
Tow Expo Dallas' winning trucks are highlighted
Towman Scott Shover is being called "a guardian angel"
Redi-Letters' lighted signs easily mount on wreckers
Suspending auto repos of clients impacted by Hurricane Harvey
Or, do government controls actually work?
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingSeptember 20 - September 26, 2017

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Waterford, MI
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Be an Ambassador: Control Your Emotions

iStock 73919By Don Archer

If you are a tow operator and you're wearing a uniform that bears your company's name, you are an ambassador for that business. But are you representing the business the way the owner would want you to?

When you drive down the road, are you operating the company's truck in a manner that endears their business to the community? Do you exude behavior that's expected from a representative of the business? Or are you cutting people off, flipping them the bird and, quite frankly, emphasizing the "ass" in ambassador?

Driving a tow truck can be a tough job. Impatient motorists who don't like being behind big trucks can be rude and annoying. They can tailgate, swerve in and out of traffic making dangerous moves, and sometimes be a nuisance.

But the worst thing you can do as a towman is to respond negatively.

Nothing you do is going to make a difference in the minds or actions of the other person. You can no more control the blowing of the wind than you can control the irrational emotions of a soccer mom in a Honda Odyssey, jockeying for position on the freeway.

But there is something you can control—your emotions.

To some that statement may be as foreign concept, but it's true. An ancient Greek philosopher named Epictetus once said, "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to what happens that matters."

Pretty solid advice from 2,000 years ago.

For this advice to mean anything to you, you must first believe that you have the ability to control your emotions.

To many, the idea of controlling emotions reeks of being cold and uncaring. To others, it's seen as a weakness, or submissive—an unwillingness to act.

But taking control over how you react to external stimuli is none of those things. Rather, it's the ultimate sign of maturity. As the saying goes, "Meekness is not weakness; it's power under control."

If you don't control your power it can become a huge problem. When you're out there reacting in-kind to the latest road-rage incident, you are building strong neural pathways in your brain that more easily facilitate negative responses in the future. These responses can be triggered even when there is nothing to get excited about. It's basic classical conditioning.

In the early 1900s, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov experimented with dogs and discovered that if he rang a bell at feeding time, the dogs would associate the bell with food and would begin to salivate. Ringing the bell even when it wasn't feeding time would bring about the same response.

This means when you react over and over again to whatever sets you off, you may be the one who is creating the road-rage scenario. I know it sounds crazy, but if you don't accept that you have the ability to control how you react, and take steps to do so, you may be making matters worse.

The greatest part about controlling your emotions is you give yourself time to think—time to decide if responding to whatever just happened is necessary.

For example, if someone makes a careless move in front of you, is it wiser to call them on it by getting on their bumper and berating them? Or would the correct response be to distance yourself from that person?

Of course, you would want to distance yourself from anyone making reckless moves.

Remember when you're out there on the roads, you're doing much more than just towing: you're a company representative—an ambassador. It's not what happens that matters; what matters is how you choose to respond.

Don G. Archer and his wife, Brenda, own and operate Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, MO. Don is also multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country. E-mail him direct at

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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