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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingFebruary 20 - February 26, 2019

Summertime Blues

Heat85 0eac0By Randall C. Resch

It's gonna be hot in the weeks to come; summer brings its own set of problems. Following are some quick safety reminders for tow owners to pass onto drivers.

Safety and survival is every tower's duty. Complacency and shortcuts open the window to being injured or killed. Be smart about what you do on every call, even the easy ones. It's really a shame that towers have to be on high alert, but that's simply a sign of the times.

Regardless of scenario, move quickly, stay focused and watch your backside. Be wary of vehicle owners and their friends who approach and start to circle behind you. It's simply good advice for tow operators to not stay in one place for too long.

Hydrate and seek out cool zones frequently, and be especially aware of people with short tempers. It's a proven fact that as temperatures rise, bad attitudes and tempers flare. Avoid areas prone to violence unless business requires you to be there.

For towers working private-property impounds, laws are specific about releasing vehicles when you're hooked-up but not off property. Remain calm and use non-violent techniques when releasing a vehicle to hopefully avoid any violent confrontation.

Be especially on alert in beach and residential areas where drinking is a regular practice. Like the old SWAT sergeant used to say, "Get in fast and get out faster;" those words ring true to the work you do.

It's the manner that towers oftentimes respond to a vehicle owner's aggression that dictates whether or not an impound turns violent. Don't be the provoker and certainly don't taunt or be flippant back to the vehicle's owner or other party. Keep your eyes on those individuals who aren't the vehicle's owner.

By staying calm and not letting the scenario escalate, you should be able to complete the process unharmed. The same is true for vehicle releases back at your tow yard. Don't hesitate to call 911 if the situation becomes violent.

For repo agents doing your thing, have a solid plan in place before reclaiming someone's car.

Danger Lurks

Drivers arriving back at the tow yard late at night with an impound or PPI should close and lock the front gate first. Do this to hopefully avoid someone walking into the yard to try and liberate their vehicle, or worse do you harm. Be smart about your surroundings and always have an escape route wherever you are.

When you exit your tow truck and not actively loading a vehicle for transport, take the keys with you to avoid someone stealing your tow truck. If you stop to make a phone call or use GPS, park in a well-lighted area and don't stay long.

Night time robberies are on the rise and tow operators, like taxi drivers, are prime targets for those thinking that towers carry cash. Criminals looking for cash will stick a gun in your face and liberate you of your phone, watch, computer and even your wedding ring. These are items bad guys will kill for.

There are lots of bars and night clubs on inner-city streets. Many DUI vs. tow operator attacks occur between midnight and 3 a.m. Never turn your back to approaching traffic and work away from the traffic side. Don't let your guard down for a second.

In many suburban and rural areas rattlesnakes are everywhere, all the way to the ocean's edge. Snakes tend to lie in shaded areas, so keep a watchful eye as you walk.

If your company is on the highway patrol's rotation list, DUI drivers are everywhere at all hours. Once again, never turn your back to approaching traffic and work away from the traffic side when working the highways.

The industry is full if incidents where tow operators have been attacked for simply doing their jobs. Regardless, be in control of where and what you're doing at all times.

Here's wishing you all a busy, productive and safe summer.

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, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.
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