The Week's Features
After a vehicle barrels into a home, a tower uses a heavy-duty to drop a cable through the roof and help rescue a pinned man.
At odds with a police officer’s way of doing things? Here’s some advice.
Superb graphic design coupled with a larger unit helps pivot this company’s growing success.
A light bar featuring DOT LED lights, automotive grade circuitry, and quality construction unmatched in the industry!
Repos are on the rise as the economic toll of Covid-19 continues.
Events
Cleveland, OH.
June 17-19, 2021
San Antonio, TX.
Aug. 5-7, 2021
Las Vegas, NV.
Sept. 15-17, 2021
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 11-14, 2021
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing December 02 - December 08, 2020

Repo Men Encounter Gun [b]Shots in Georgia

In an attempt to repossess a 2011 Honda Accord on 9/24 in Athens, Ga., two repo men encountered gunshots, according to an Athens-County police report.

Repo man Michael Wilson and his partner located the vehicle and attempted to repossess it around 2:30 a.m.

At that time, the driver was in the car, and as Wilson approached to inform of the repossession, the driver “gassed” it, nearly hitting Wilson’s partner who was parked in a van. Then the driver stopped at an intersection.

“We heard three gunshots,” said Wilson, who sought safety in the nearby woods while his partner dropped to the ground.

Tracked by police, the car was found, along with heroin and methamphetamine, but the driver fled by foot.

Police have identified the 28-year-old Athens man and are pursuing warrants charging him with two counts of aggravated assault.

https://www.onlineathens.com/


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Industry Pins Hopes on Vaccines

Since Covid-19 hit in March of 2020, vehicle traffic has declined precipitously. Of course, this result can be attributed to stay-at home orders and a shift to work-from-home behaviors. According to Brookings Institute, every metro area in the country experienced a traffic decline of at least 53%, with college towns and large metro areas dropping a whopping 75%.

For towers and the industry, this has been an incredible blow, leaving some companies bereft, with so many peripheral effects, as a steady flow of traffic is the life-blood of our industry, and an economic driver for all businesses, particularly travel and hospitality.

Now, with the news that we are nearing vaccine approval, with several companies in the forefront such as Moderna and Pfizer, the industry, like the rest of the world, is hopeful for a return to normalcy. The survival of the world depends upon it.

For American Towman Magazine this is all good news. Without a thriving industry, our business is impacted, with advertising sales down and exhibitions cancelled. Suppliers are looking to you as well, while you are looking for more business activity. This economic cycle is what makes the world go round. May this day come sooner than later.


Van that was towed by the city of Chicago potentially escalates into a class-action lawsuit.
“Tow Buddy” Inventor Speaks Out About Safety & Ease of New Product

M100 Mega Tator in Action

1 760bfby Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Keeping with the spirit of the season, this is a Christmas story. It started in October 2019 when Miller Industries unveiled the world’s first-ever 100-ton Rolling Rotator named the Century M100. The crew at Miller Industries stated, “Thanks again to Ed Petroff of Petroff Towing for placing your trust in us with the design and development of the new Century M100! Enjoy your new Christmas toy 2019.”
Well here we are approaching Christmas 2020 and Ed’s Century M100 mega tator is keeping busy.

On November 6, 2020 the City of Highland called Petroff Towing to assist in moving a large transformer in Highland, Illinois, 25 miles away from Petroff’s shop. Company owner Ed Petroff explained, “The city called because they had a new transformer of the same size being shipped in and set. Their quote was for a cleared pad so we had to remove the old unit, load it on a trailer, and go across town to unload it. The transformer was just over 84,000-pound plus an additional 5,000-pound of radiators that were left on it for a total lift of 89,300-pounds.”

Ed responded with his 2020 Kenworth W900 with a Century M100 mega ‘tator. The Century M100 is world's largest rotator. This 100-ton tator has a working area of more than 8,200 square feet, a maximum boom height over 53-feet, with an outrigger stance of over 25-feet and a turret travel length of over 12-feet. It comes with dual 65,000-pound main recovery winches and two 30,000-pound turret auxiliary winches and the option of two additional 30,000-pound drag winches mounted on the underside of the unit. Plenty of lifting power to handle this transformer.

Ed staged to do the 84,000-pound lift off of the rear of the massive M100. He rigged the transformer using 7/8-inch DyPac cable; Crosby 15-ton snatch blocks; and 2 5/8-inch, grade 100, two-leg bridles.

“We lifted the unit off of the pad, set it onto a trailer, and then unloaded it at another city-owned facility across town,” said Ed. “As you can see by the last few photos, they came to set the new unit (same size and spec) with a 350-ton crane.”
…………………………………………..

Thomas G. Petroff started a small towing company in metropolitan Saint Louis in 1948. He ran the company for twenty years until undertaking new endeavors in 1968. From 1968 until 1975 the business was dormant until Edward and Debra Petroff breathed life into the new Petroff Towing. The Petroffs’ chose to specialize in emergency services and heavy-duty work and became known as “The Heavy-Duty and Recovery Specialists of the Metro Saint Louis Area.”

Petroff Towing, Inc. has five locations servicing Southern Illinois and the St. Louis Metro area. They have four satellite locations in addition to their state-of-the-art headquarters, located in Caseyville, Illinois, which houses a substantial portion of their heavy-duty fleet and all specialized services such as various trailers, dock facilities and air cushion/HazMat recovery, as well as a dispatch center, billing department and offices. They also have a covered, climate-controlled dock facility that is equipped with forklifts, pallet jacks, stretch wrapping machines and all other necessary materials to rework loads on-site.

The company celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2020.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


Have you diversified into any new revenue streams to cope with the pandemic?
Yes
No
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Managing Editor: Steve Calitri
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
December 02 - December 08, 2020
Signage in Chicago detailing the city's parking regulation.

Chicago Implements Winter Parking Ban

In Chicago, the city will implement a winter parking ban, prohibiting people from parking along over 100 miles of main streets from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. The ban will be enforced through April 1.

Cars violating the regulation will be towed and taken to one of the city’s two pounds, costing drivers a minimum $150 fee for towing, a $25 fee for each day the car is stored and a $60 ticket, according to city officials.

A separate, snow-related ban also goes into effect Dec. 1 that prohibits parking along another 500 miles of main roadways across the city anytime there are at least two inches of snow on the street, regardless of the time of day or year.

The parking ban is enforced as a precautionary measure so major roadways aren’t obstructed, and can be fully plowed and salted after snow, making them safer for drivers, buses and emergency vehicles.

https://blockclubchicago.org/
On the Hook with John Borowski - 6
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December 02 - December 08, 2020
Tower Brandon Dexter of Merl’s Towing of Grand Rapids, Mi., backing his heavy duty wrecker to the house.

Michigan Tower Helps [b]Save Pinned Man

Tower Brandon Dexter of Merl’s Towing of Grand Rapids, Mi., sprung into action when a speeding vehicle crashed into a home in a neighboring town that pinned an elderly man.

Dexter said, “Couple of drivers and I were talking before all of this and like, ‘It’s going to be another slow, dead night.' We were planning on just washing trucks, doing little things around here just to stay busy.”

Working together with firefighters and police, Dexter backed a heavy-duty tow truck to the house, dropping a cable through a hole in the roof, which allowed first responders to lift the vehicle.

“The fact that he was pinned under there for so long was enough to make you cringe just thinking about it,” he said. “Because if it was any one of your loved ones, you’d definitely want everybody to do whatever they could to get him out.”

Alaskan Tower Struck and Killed

In Anchorage, a tow truck driver, while at the scene of a crash, was struck and killed by a DUI driver.

The driver was loading an impounded vehicle just after 3 a.m. when struck by 23 year-old driver Michelle Parker, who was detained and charged with operating under the influence.

The unidentified tow truck driver was transported to a local hospital where he was declared deceased.

As a result of that investigation, Parker was charged with Manslaughter, Driving Under the Influence, and Driving in Violation of License Limitation.

https://alaska-native-news.com/

County in Virginia Considering Tow Regulations

Roanoke County, Va., is considering police-initiated towing regulations with an advisory board to regulate tow companies. A work session included input from tow companies and the County’s Chief of Police.

A regulatory board would give the county better control over its police-initiated towing situation, and help to manage consumer complaints, said Allen Wood, of Woods Towing & Recovery. “The current county system is broken,” Wood said.

Currently the county doesn’t regulate towing. When police initiate a tow, the owner can request a company from the list or pick a tow company. If no one is picked, the next company on the list is chosen.

There are several problems with that. One is lack of accountability, according to Howard Hall, County Chief of Police. He said, “We do not have the ability to deal with any complaints related to tow issues.”

Another issue includes disparities in fees from one tow company to the next, as they are not bound to abide by fee schedules, in a county that spans 250 miles.

Thirdly, some companies on the rotation are owned by one company. “We do have situations where multiple companies are owned by the same person, so in terms of that rotation, they’re getting through more often,” Hall said.

Charlie Brown of Brown & Son Towing agreed a regulatory board would help to root out wrecker services with unethical practices.

“I think most of us would support it,” Brown said. “We see things going on that shouldn’t be going on that’s affecting our county’s citizens.”

Tow professionals in attendance said qualified, certified tow companies are the ones who should be looked at for any contracts that might be implemented, rather than unqualified companies.

https://roanoke.com/

Texas Troopers Vigilant during [b]Thanksgiving Holiday

As part of a nationwide operation, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers will increase patrols during Thanksgiving weekend. The Operation CARE (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effect) initiative will increase patrols Wednesday through Sunday.

“As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, we want to remind every Texan of their duty to drive defensively and help keep our roadways safe,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said. “The holidays may look different this year, but it is still up to each of us to obey traffic laws and make safety our top priority behind the wheel.”

Through this initiative, the agency said troopers will be on the lookout for drivers violating the law, such as but not limited to: speeding, driving while intoxicated, failure to wear a seatbelt, driving without insurance and failure to comply with the state’s Move Over, Slow Down law. 

Source: https://www.themonitor.com

City of Chicago Hit with Class [b]Action Suit for Wrongful Towing

The city of Chicago is accused of wrongly towing abandoned vehicles and is now being taken to court in a class action suit.

The suit was initiated by a disabled woman, Andrea Santiago, who has multiple sclerosis. She claims that her van with a custom hydraulic lift was towed by the city to the auto pound, then sold and crushed, even destroying the expensive wheelchair.

“They can’t justify what they did. My mom needed that vehicle,” said Santiago’s daughter, Lisandra Velez.

A federal judge has allowed Santiago’s lawsuit against the city to become a class action lawsuit for failing to provide proper notification by mail to vehicle owners – warning their vehicles were about to be sold or scrapped.

Attorney Jacie Zolna, who represents Santiago and succeeded in getting the class action status, said, “Towing without telling, that is literally taking peoples’ cars without giving them any notification by mail. That practice applies to what the city calls abandoned tows.”

The city defends its actions, maintaining that the case concerns unregistered vehicles and expired license plates that sit on the street for more than 7 days and that they provide warning through notice stickers on the car and two notice letters in the mail.

https://chicago.cbslocal.com/

College Students Target Tow [b]Company for Unfair Practices

Riverside Towing, which patrols the college campus of LSU (Lousiana State University), is being targeted by students and parents for their towing practices, as testimonies are being gathered through a twitter account.

Abigail Holden, one of the five founders of the Turn BR Towing Twitter account, said that she believes Riverside intentionally targets college students because they often aren't aware of the laws and don't question what they're being charged. 

"They're targeting college kids, and it's pretty obvious," Holden said. "Half the time people don't even realize what they're being charged for." 

A variety of issues have arisen over Riverside’s practices, including fees, their cash-only policy, Sunday charges, discriminatory fees for out-of-state vehicles and more.

If a car's title is not registered under the student's name, which is often the case, they need a written statement from the owner of the car confirming the individual present is authorized to retrieve the vehicle.

Some students maintain this practice has caused difficulties due to its inconvenience.

Riverside has not commented on these accusations by students and parents.

Source: https://www.lsureveille.com/
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December 02 - December 08, 2020

M100 Mega Tator in Action

1 760bfby Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Keeping with the spirit of the season, this is a Christmas story. It started in October 2019 when Miller Industries unveiled the world’s first-ever 100-ton Rolling Rotator named the Century M100. The crew at Miller Industries stated, “Thanks again to Ed Petroff of Petroff Towing for placing your trust in us with the design and development of the new Century M100! Enjoy your new Christmas toy 2019.”
Well here we are approaching Christmas 2020 and Ed’s Century M100 mega tator is keeping busy.

On November 6, 2020 the City of Highland called Petroff Towing to assist in moving a large transformer in Highland, Illinois, 25 miles away from Petroff’s shop. Company owner Ed Petroff explained, “The city called because they had a new transformer of the same size being shipped in and set. Their quote was for a cleared pad so we had to remove the old unit, load it on a trailer, and go across town to unload it. The transformer was just over 84,000-pound plus an additional 5,000-pound of radiators that were left on it for a total lift of 89,300-pounds.”

Ed responded with his 2020 Kenworth W900 with a Century M100 mega ‘tator. The Century M100 is world's largest rotator. This 100-ton tator has a working area of more than 8,200 square feet, a maximum boom height over 53-feet, with an outrigger stance of over 25-feet and a turret travel length of over 12-feet. It comes with dual 65,000-pound main recovery winches and two 30,000-pound turret auxiliary winches and the option of two additional 30,000-pound drag winches mounted on the underside of the unit. Plenty of lifting power to handle this transformer.

Ed staged to do the 84,000-pound lift off of the rear of the massive M100. He rigged the transformer using 7/8-inch DyPac cable; Crosby 15-ton snatch blocks; and 2 5/8-inch, grade 100, two-leg bridles.

“We lifted the unit off of the pad, set it onto a trailer, and then unloaded it at another city-owned facility across town,” said Ed. “As you can see by the last few photos, they came to set the new unit (same size and spec) with a 350-ton crane.”
…………………………………………..

Thomas G. Petroff started a small towing company in metropolitan Saint Louis in 1948. He ran the company for twenty years until undertaking new endeavors in 1968. From 1968 until 1975 the business was dormant until Edward and Debra Petroff breathed life into the new Petroff Towing. The Petroffs’ chose to specialize in emergency services and heavy-duty work and became known as “The Heavy-Duty and Recovery Specialists of the Metro Saint Louis Area.”

Petroff Towing, Inc. has five locations servicing Southern Illinois and the St. Louis Metro area. They have four satellite locations in addition to their state-of-the-art headquarters, located in Caseyville, Illinois, which houses a substantial portion of their heavy-duty fleet and all specialized services such as various trailers, dock facilities and air cushion/HazMat recovery, as well as a dispatch center, billing department and offices. They also have a covered, climate-controlled dock facility that is equipped with forklifts, pallet jacks, stretch wrapping machines and all other necessary materials to rework loads on-site.

The company celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2020.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Park, Slide & Swamp Recovery

01 bfd5f
by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On Oct 24th 2020 I was on my way back from a visit to the ER at Good Samaritan in Suffern, NY, when I noticed a heavy wrecker from Big Tow Inc. working a Saturday night recovery in the back of a parking lot of Rhodes North Tavern on Orange Turnpike in Sloatsburg, New York.

I called Big Tow’s owner/Senior Vice President Monika Fijor for the info on this job. She informed, “We were called in by the Ramapo Police Department. They requested a heavy-duty wrecker for a vehicle off road in a swamp embankment.”

Big Tows dispatched operator Luis Quintana in their 2018 Peterbilt with a Vulcan V100 50-ton heavy-duty wrecker and operator Kevin Shapiro in their 2017 Hino with a Kildare flatbed.

Upon arrival they were told that the owner of the SUV was trying to back into a spot and instead of braking he accelerated and drove out of the parking lot, down a steep hill into a swamp area.

Luis backed the V100 to the edge of the parking lot where the blue SUV went down the embankment. Both Luis and Kevin worked together as a team to rig the car.

Monika explained, “The vehicle bottom was in the swamp with water halfway up its wheels and they could not gain access to the bottom of the car.”

Using two lines from the Vulcan V100 heavy, attached to red recovery straps, they hooked up by lacing the straps through the vehicles front wheels and winched the vehicle out of the swamp and up the hill. When the vehicle was back on top of the hill, Kevin hooked up the vehicle with the line from the Kildare winch and completed the winch onto the flatbed.

“The vehicle was transported back to our yard for further assessment of damage and body work repairs,” Monika stated. “Great Job Big Tows team!”

The husband and wife team of Ricardo and Monika Fijor are the dynamic duo and driving force of Big Tows Inc, founded in 1998 by Ricardo in Spring Valley, New York. Big Tows Inc is one of the largest family owned towing companies in Rockland County. They are a New York State Authorized Repair facility for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Their headquarters is located in Chestnut Ridge, NY and they also have an additional location in Ramsey, NJ.

Big Tow has years of experience in heavy towing and emergency recovery and all of their drivers are WreckMaster and TRAA certified. Their extensive fleet of specialized equipment includes heavy-duty wreckers, rotators and 144-inch long under-reach capabilities. They are also a New York State Authorized Repair facility for medium- and heavy-duty trucks with state-of-the-art facilities to diagnose, repair, and maintain your units.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
 
 

Slingshot Train Lift

2 c2859by Jim ‘Buck” Sorrenti

On Nov. 11, 2020, Pepe’s Towing Service received a call from a tow company on scene in Long Beach, CA, requesting help to reset a rail car.

Joshua “Josh” Acosta explained, “We were called by City Tow that needed assistance in lifting a 200,000-pound rail car that derailed and needed to be set back on the tracks.”

Josh responded with Big Flipper, his 2019 Peterbilt 389 with a Century 1075 75-ton rotator. City Tow had two trucks on scene, a 2015 Peterbilt with a Century 9055 50-ton heavy and a 1994 Peterbilt with a Century 1060 60-ton 2-stage rotator.

“Upon arrival, I saw the other tow company had two heavies on scene, one on each end of the rail car.” explained Josh. “I positioned my 75-ton rotator to lift at the very end. Due to the extreme weight I would be lifting, I ran a 4-part line with three 15-ton snatchblocks and I finally got to use my brand new custom 15-foot slings on this rail car.”

Each sling, made by SWOS, has a working load limit of approximately 52,000-pounds. Josh informed, “These slings are much stronger and lighter than chain, and have a special urethane coating that makes them abrasion and cut resistant. Each end of my slings were attached to my BA container links with an oblong.”

The axle was chained up to the rail car so that it would not stay on the ground as it was lifted. Once rigged, all three trucks winched in.

Josh said, “By starting with my boom head over the rail track instead of over the middle of the rail car, I was able to winch it to me while also lifting it high enough to set back onto the track while a forklift helped keep the axle straight.”

Josh set it back on the tracks and was off to the next one. Once set on the tracks, the company pushed the rail car to off load it.

……………………
Jose and Delfina Acosta established Pepe’s Towing Service in March of 1978 with one tow truck converted from a standard Ford 350 pick-up truck. In the early days, Pepe’s Towing Service served the community of Los Angeles. As the business grew, Jose Jr. and brother Manuel “Manny” followed in their father’s footsteps by taking an interest in the towing business. In March 1997, Jose Jr. and Manny became full-time employees. In 1989, Lorenzo Navarro became part of the Pepe’s team and established himself as an integral part of the company. More than 40 years later, Pepe's is still family owned and operated.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!


MIDWESTERN – Nacogdoches, TX
$500
(pop. 34,047)

SOUTHERN – Lake City, FL
$250
(pop. 12,099)

EASTERN - King George, VA
$145
(pop. 4,457)

WESTERN - Brentwood, CA
$276.25
(pop. 53,673)

Heavy-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
December 02 - December 08, 2020

You’re Not the Boss of Me

5dd711d328681.image 0b318
By Randall C. Resch

I’m NOT offended if an officer offers recovery suggestions as to the techniques I’m using. If a request isn’t against the law or outside my scope of ability, I’ll consider their request with respect and professionalism.

But I see it unprofessional to go head-to-head with an officer’s authority. Should an officer observe something potentially dangerous (that I don’t) it could protect me from injury or death, citing an incident that involved an Arizona veteran tow operator who was killed when he allegedly failed to heed an officer’s safety observations.

When working tow incidents, law enforcement is tasked with investigative and traffic duties. If an officer demands you drag a casualty onto a carrier’s deck upside-down (that technique is not considered the best solution), could there be a solid reason for that request? How do you get past that moment? While it’s true we’re trained to work these scenes, the bigger picture requires towers effectively communicate a safer, alternative plan.

Cops aren’t tow operators; we are. Some hard-headed officers don’t play though leading to tower’s suggesting they’re “on a power-trip.” So, if an officer steps-in offering recovery suggestions or reasonable demands, how do you respond to their authoritative approach? Some towers are immediately offended by the officer’s instructions, but is that the right approach?

Experienced and tactful tow professionals should know how to interact with the law enforcement community. Telling cops to “butt-out” isn’t the way to handle situations. Refusing to work because it goes against your grain and telling the officer “yer’ not the boss of me” isn’t the way to react.

Even if officers don’t know what they’re talking about, refusing to work is a solid way to be eliminated from rotation contracts. Based on a contract’s wording, for example, California Highway Patrol’s 2019-2020 Tow Service Agreement has provisions addressing non-responsive tow operators refusing to conduct work under the CHP’s authority. The TSA is specific to three requirements (sections) addressing operators refusing to work:

• Section 6 - Response to Calls, Subsection D, in-part states, “A failure or refusal to respond to towing or service calls without justification shall result in disciplinary action.”

• Section 8 - Tow Truck Drivers, Subsection C, stating, “Tow truck driver shall perform all towing and recovery operations in the safest and most expedient manner possible.”

• Section 16 - Demeanor and Conduct, Subsection A2, stating, “While involved in CHP rotation tow operations or related business, the tow operator and/or employee(s) shall refrain from any acts of misconduct including, but not limited to, any of the following; 2) Lack of service, selective service, or refusal to provide service which the operator is capable of performing.”

Understanding the wording of three contract sections, have you ever reacted (toward an officer) in a non-professional or disrespectful manner? For some towers, keeping temper and emotions at bay may be their own personal struggle.

Walking off-the-job or turning work down could be in your company’s worst interests if reasons aren’t justified in the agency’s eyes or that of the tow boss. Your complaint that suggests “That officer’s on a power-trip” won’t fly if there’s nothing to back accusations.

So what’s your approach to an officer who’s telling you how-to-do your job, especially when that officer’s been on the job twenty-plus years? In the bigger picture, is that a battle you’re going to win?

Cannabis and the Tower

Departmen 94d12Brian J Riker

With some form of Cannabis or it’s derivative products being legal or at least decriminalized in all but 6 States and with three more states approving forms of Cannabis use on Election Day, it is time to revisit what marijuana use means for the towing industry.

All drivers of commercial motor vehicles that require a commercial driver license (CDL), including owner operators and casual drivers, must submit to US DOT regulated drug and alcohol testing. This testing includes pre-employment, random, post-accident and return to duty screenings. At least 50% of an employers qualified pool of CDL drivers (or consortium members) must be randomly tested for drugs and 10% for alcohol use each year.

Should a driver have a positive test result or refuse to submit to a test when required they will be placed out of service until they have completed the return to duty process which involves meeting with a substance abuse professional, developing a plan to stop using illegal substances and strict monitoring of their behaviors - including directly observed drug testing for a period of no less than twelve months afterwards. Keep in mind that a refusal to test can be as simple as not reporting to the test facility on time, not staying inside the facility once you have reported, being unable to produce an adequate urine sample or producing one that appears to be diluted or adulterated in any manner.

When a DOT drug test returns a positive result, the company’s Medical Review Officer (MRO) will contact the driver to see if there is a legitimate reason for the result such as a legal prescription from a Doctor. In many instances this will cancel the positive result and life will go on as usual. That is not the case with THC, even with a valid prescription for a medical professional in states where medical use is legal!

It is imperative to remember that under Federal rules Marijuana and other derivatives containing more than 0.3% THC are still classified as a Schedule 1 drug which makes possession and use illegal for anyone performing safety sensitive transportation functions such as driving of commercial motor vehicles. This includes CBD oils and prescription usage. It is especially important to consider that there are sporadic and vastly differing laboratory testing rules, if any, for many of these products so even over the counter available CBD oils may contain enough THC to cause a positive DOT drug test result.

The overall positive drug testing rate for the US trucking industry in 2019 was just at 1%, which is incredibly low; however it is unacceptable to the regulators. This is why the random testing rate was increased to 50% for 2020 because any time the overall positive rate is 1% or greater the random rate must increase. Recently, due to the increase in legal or decriminalized use of Cannabis products, marijuana has become the most popular drug to cause a positive test result to be reported. According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2019, marijuana accounted for 70% of all positive drug test results.

Now, the surprising part for most drivers. Even though the drug testing regulations only apply to drivers required to have a CDL that does not mean the FMCSA turns a blind eye to drug or alcohol use by drivers of non-CDL trucks. It is still a violation of Federal regulations to use illegal substances even when testing is not required. Further, should a CDL driver have a positive test result reported, they will be immediately prohibited for operating any commercial motor vehicle, including non-CDL trucks. This means that you can’t do any commercial driving at all until you have completed the return to duty process.

Bottom line, with the implementation of the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing Clearinghouse regulations I wrote about two weeks ago, the push for hair testing in place of urine testing for CDL drivers and the social acceptance of marijuana use in the United States, a tower needs to be more careful than ever to keep themselves employable. Even if you have an understanding employer, or are self-employed, the insurance companies are not looking favorably upon positive drug testing results which could make you uninsurable for doing something that may not even be illegal in your state.

The “Burnt Out” Tower

fleetowner 7399 ts 459153271 2 72660By Randall C. Resch

An east-coast tower was involved in a series of (alleged) events stemming from an off-duty domestic event. The media described that a tow company employee, embroiled in family problems, created problems at the workplace. Although the news focused on the employee’s arrest, I sensed maybe “Burn-out” was the problem.

Sometimes stresses at home or domestic relationships create problems that filter to the workplace. In younger days, I remember parenting and marriage issues that unfortunately followed me to work. I felt helpless and not-in-control because issues caused increased family stresses. Because I was at work, I couldn’t focus on off-duty issues.

Tow company employees, especially dispatchers and operators, experience plenty of job stresses and dangers. Long-hours, no sleep or being over-bullied by management can wear personnel down resulting in burn-out and job-dissatisfaction.

While some individuals love their work, they likely haven’t ever experienced the life of a tower. I’ll admit, while I love this industry, self-induced burn-out demanded I make a career change for my own sanity.

Industry burn-out is real. Most towers will agree they’ve had it, experiencing a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.

Employee stresses get compounded by a boss who is not approachable, who has a “Suck it up Butter-cup” school of management. Some bosses don’t understand when employees have a bad-day, seem off-kilter or are stressed and burnt out.

I believe bosses who share at-length relationships with their employees are more apt to understand when workers struggle or work differently than normal.

At some point, a caring, but non-pushy "How can I help" may prevent an employee from over-load, walking off the job, or worse yet, experiencing an accident or incident where they (or someone else) is injured or killed. Staying open, patient, and non-judgmental is the way to go. Remember, we all hurt sometimes.
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December 02 - December 08, 2020

Racing to the Top

0 54a64By George L. Nitti

Rockdale Towing & Recovery, located in Reistertown, Md., just off the Baltimore Beltway, has been a mainstay of the city since 1968. Bruce Leibowitz joined the company in 1995, working night shifts 7 days a week while working a day job at a Ford Dealership in their commercial service department.

Approximately 20 years later, Leibowitz, along with his brother Gary Leibowitz, an attorney by profession, partnered to buy the company, immediately transforming it when they acquired a 1992 Peterbilt with a 378 JerrDan 25-ton Wrecker.

Leibowitz said, “At the time our largest truck was a 14-ton, single axle, which we outgrew. Once we got that heavy truck, our business exploded. We were able to buy a 2nd wrecker within a year and a half.”

Leibowitz would work on cultivating his commercial contacts at Ford, converting them to clients in his new business.

He said, “I knew so many people. Because I could now tow bigger trucks, I captured the work.”

Since the company was new to the heavy-duty game, Leibowitz intended that their new design would stand out more if it were wrapped like a big rolling billboard.

Turning to the graphical design prowess of Razor Wrap’s Mark Long, the company’s branding took on a new direction, imbued in part with Long’s signature brush strokes, such as the flowing yellow and orange striped lines along the wrecker’s side.

“All of our trucks were black and we switched it to orange from gold. The black and gold colors looked like the Pittsburgh Steelers. NOT a favorite here in Baltimore. We were going for something more like the colors of the Baltimore Orioles,” Leibowitz said. He added, “Yellow brings out the orange, making it more vivid.”

The flowing black checkered flags was another signature piece added to the side of the unit.

Leibowitz said, “All of my trucks have checkered flags on the front hoods. I have been a race fan my whole life.”

But perhaps what stands out the most is the black retro font of the company name that also flows along the body’s side, integrated perfectly with the company’s sunnier colors.

“I’m a classic car guy,” he said, “and into classic memorabilia.”

The topper is the cartoon of Foghorn Leghorn on the side of the light bar.

“I grew up on Looney Tunes and Hanna Barbera,” he said. “That was my generation.”

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

Modern Design with Elegance

1 17e63
By George L. Nitti

Elegance in design is often found through simplicity and minimal embellishment.

At Hockenberry’s Garage of Sparrow Bush, NY, the company has created an elegant design on their tow trucks through these two qualities.

Drawing on the skills of a designer from Fine Hand Signs, located in Glen Spey, NY, Hockenberry’s 2018 Ford F550 with a Chevron Renegade, featuring hydraulic stiff legs, achieves that end with vinyl decals.

According to owner Charlie Hockenberry, “We have done away with flames and are now into a more modern look.”

Indeed, their white and cranberry colored unit contains features associated with a more modern design – bright, crisp lines and shapes sparsely scattered around the truck, minimal colors consisting of two solid paint schemes, plenty of white space and easy-to-read lettering, and nice balance across the truck.

“I try to make sure that the graphics don’t overwhelm,” said Hockenberry. “Sometimes you can get lost in the advertising scheme. I want to make sure that people who see our trucks know whose trucks they are.”

Although maroon is a favored color of many tow truck company’s to pair with white, Hockenberry’s, in business since 1963, chose to pair with a cranberry red.

Hockenberry said, “We have used the color cranberry for 15 years. It is neat and clean and has a little elegance to it.”

On the hood sit a couple of cranberry squares.

On the bottom of the unit, along both sides, a horizontal line of cranberry runs across with a white line centered between it, illustrating a simple, yet elegant display. The phone number, which sits at the end, is easy to pick up with the eye.

On the front window, in the visor position, are the words, “Making it Look Easy.”

Hockenberry said, “When we go out and do a call, everybody says, ‘You make that look easy.’ So we put that slogan on our trucks.”

Although the company does motor club calls, Hockenberry maintains that most of their business is just repeat customers.

He said, “The key to our success over the years has been providing customer satisfaction. Keep the customer happy and you’ll be doing fine.”

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at bdooley@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

Pride and Class

joeys 220c1By George L. Nitti

This year is a big year for Joey’s Towing & Recovery, with two locations in Detroit, Mi., and Toledo, Oh.

The company is celebrating its 20th year in the business. To mark the occasion, in September of 2020, they treated themselves to a new rotator, a 2021 Peterbilt 389 with a Century 1150, purchased from Elizabeth Truck Center of Elizabeth, NJ.

Called the Pride and Class, this unit turns heads, grabbing the heartstrings of Americans whose zeal for country is embodied in our stars and stripes. According to the unit’s driver, Will Greulich, the employees at Joey’s take pride in being true, proud Americans.

He said, “Also because it’s an election year. We wanted to show and take pride in our country.”

Greulich, along with owner Joey Bushway and a graphic designer worked together to come up with a stellar patriotic themed design centered around the American flag.

On the unit’s rotator side, the American flag is partially wrapped, its image blown up, undulating in a downward sloping trajectory, while on the front end, a more realistic image of a full-bodied American flag is found.

As expected, the colors of red, white and blue are the unit’s prevailing colors, with blue serving as the dominant color, especially the boom, outriggers and unit’s many accents.

Greulich said, “We wanted to stick with blue because blue and white are the colors of our other trucks and we wanted it to blend in with our fleet.”

Greulich also said that what makes this rotator stand out are its many customized features - the polished chrome, fender, bumper, drop front, and the red, white and blue strobe lights.

The rotator also has a sleeper cabin, which Greulich pointed out is frequently used. He said, “Since September, we’ve exceeded 26,000 miles. We will go anywhere in the United States.”

Like any winning design, this one includes special touches, such as the “Made in Detroit” slogan found on the back, reasserting American values in home-made products and American manufacturing.

Finally, it’s their 20th year celebration medallion at the back of the rotator that adds just that extra touch of class, bringing together the unit’s overwhelming expression of pride to raise this rotator to the stars.

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

December 02 - December 08, 2020

Wireless 36” Light Bar

wirelesslightbar2 e7db4
• This wireless tow light features two amber/white strobes (with a separate switch) for additional driver safety.
• It’s easy to use: just plug the 7 pin transmitter into your vehicle’s connector; strap the bar on the disabled vehicle; hit the ‘on’ switch, and you’re ready to tow.
• To save battery life, the taillights do not light when the bar is initially turned on—they work in concert with your vehicles taillights (left and right turn, stop, and taillights).
• This light bar features DOT LED lights, automotive grade circuitry, and quality construction unmatched in the industry. It comes with a three-year warranty with the exception of the batteries, which are warranted for 6 months.
• Designed, Engineered, Manufactured, and Assembled in the USA by Custer Products / Lite It Wireless.
https://custerproducts.com/products/lite-it-wireless/

Featuring amber/white strobes

The PRO-VISION® Fleet Dash Camera

shadow. jpg 0cfefThe PRO-VISION® Fleet Dash Camera records 1080p High-Definition resolution on both adjustable built-in cameras and on an optional third camera.

Not all accidents happen directly in front of the vehicle. That’s why we designed both built-in cameras to capture a 175 degree field-of-view, providing better coverage and ensuring crucial events aren't missed.

Providing a brighter picture, wider view and longer range in low-light situations, the PRO-VISION® Fleet Dash Camera uses the latest night vision technology to provide the best picture, even in total darkness.

Some features:
• GPS - Videos are tagged with the location provided by the embedded GPS – use PV Dashboard® to see events on a map.
• WI-FI - An integrated Wi-Fi hot-spot makes it simple to connect your device to an existing network.
• G-FORCE SENSOR - The built in multi-axis G-Force sensor triggers an alert if it detects excessive acceleration, braking or cornering, notifying you of possible erratic driving.
• WIRELESS OFFLOAD - The DR-200 Fleet Dash Camera automatically uploads your files when a vehicle gets within ran

Webfleet Asset Management - LINK 740

image001 63c3eThe first-choice fleet management device optimizes your workflow with broad integration. Equipped with CAN & Bluetooth connectivity and offering I/O interfaces, LINK 740 is designed to improve your fleet’s performance, helping your business advance to the next level.
• Improve your fleet performance using precise and up-to-date vehicle data.
• Reduce your running costs by monitoring real-time and historical fuel usage.
• Identify areas of improvement and make effective decisions using our comprehensive reports.
• Integrate easily with additional hardware, e.g. Webfleet Solutions’ PRO Driver Terminals, sensors. • Access a wide range of business applications through Bluetooth & multiple I/O interfaces.
• Manage your tax responsibilities using automatic logbook.
• Improve your drivers’ performance and safety with driving style analyses.
• Stay on top of maintenance and service schedule with timely reminders.

https://www.webfleet.com/en_us/webfleet/
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December 02 - December 08, 2020
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December 02 - December 08, 2020

Auto Repossessions on the Rise

As the economic situation in America becomes more dire due to the effects of Covid-19, auto repossessions are expected to rise. Without more stimulus - jobless benefits, financial programs and consumer protections are all set to expire, causing evictions, foreclosures and auto repossessions.

“We’ve certainly seen an uptick in defaults and delinquencies,” said John Van Alst of the National Consumer Law Center. “I think that’s going to translate into a really large increase in repossessions.”

According to the credit reporting agency TransUnion, the number of auto loan accounts that are 30 days past due moved to 3.1% in August, compared to 3.0% in July.

“I’m almost certain the number of repossessions are going to increase,” said Les McCook, executive director for the American Recovery Association.

Source: https://www.poynter.org/

Georgia Woman Charged for Obstruction

A woman faces a charge of obstruction after an incident in a parking lot of a mall area in Warner Robins, Georgia.

According to Police Chief John Wagner, it started with a car being repossessed.

He says the woman jumped into the car and refused to get out. Officers were called to the scene and tried to get her to exit the vehicle.

Then, he says, she started the car and tried to drive it away while it was connected to the wrecker.

Officers broke the car window as she was trying to drive off, and she was ultimately removed from the car.

The woman was charged for obstructing an officer.

https://www.13wmaz.com/

Repossession Leads to [b]Drug Discovery

A repossession of a rental car at an Oregon mobile home park first led to an altercation than to a drug discovery.

The suspect, Jeremy Peppinger, allegedly threatened to "get a gun" when the rental car he was driving was being taken back for his failure to return it--and pay for it.

A 911 call led to Deputies reporting to the scene. When they arrived Peppinger was removing personal items from the vehicle.  On probable cause Deputies obtained a search warrant for the vehicle, and inside found a baggie of what appeared to be a crystal-like substance, and numerous needles in the car.

Peppinger was booked for felony threats while the substance was turned over to investigators.

Source: https://newstalk870.am/
 

Nissan to Pay for Wrongful [b]Repossessions

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) alleged that between 2013 and 2019, Nissan Motor’s lending unit “wrongly repossessed hundreds of consumers’ vehicles despite the consumer having made payment.” Although Nissan’s lending arm denied any wrongdoing, they agreed to pay $4 million to settle the allegations.

The CFPB charges include that Nissan repossessed vehicles within delinquency of 60 days when terms stipulated against that. In addition, they kept personal property in repossessed vehicles until consumers paid a storage fee, and deprived consumers paying by phone of the ability to select payment options with significantly lower fees."

The agency said actions violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act prohibition against unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The settlement imposes requirements "to prevent future violations and remediate consumers whose vehicles are wrongfully repossessed going forward," the bureau said.

https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com/
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