The Week's Features
AT Field Editor Terry Abejuela recently received the Rich Chappel Industry Leader Award
Having the right training and tools can go a long way to keeping you out of court
WWII-bomber theme for 2003 Mack/Challenger 30-ton wrecker
New gas-powered cabover is designed for increased payload
The victim fatally struck his head on the concrete, police said.
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City Council Aligns Tow Employee Conduct

The O’Fallon (Illinois) City Council on Monday sought ordinance updates for towing company regulations to specify employee criminal behavior. A vote for approval is scheduled June 3.

The proposed amendment states “a towing company must not employ any driver or vehicle operator that has been convicted of homicide, attempted homicide, crimes involving bodily injury and/or attempted bodily injury, robbery, theft crimes, attempted theft, forgery, Driving Under the Influence, any sex crimes and/or anyone on parole, probation, and/or a sex offender list for the above offenses and/or any other crime during the past five years in any state or territory.”

In addition, the city may at their discretion withhold eligibility to any tow company based on any employee’s history of stalking, excessive traffic violations and/or any other public safety concern.

The Public Safety Committee recommended bolstering the ordinance to reflect the latest amended Illinois Vehicle Code.

Source: bnd.com.
RECOVERY ROUNDUP: Twisted Truck Tangled with Guard Rail

Dangling and Angling in Jersey

1 7afe0by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Angling is the sport of fishing with a rod and reel. Recovery is the science of knowing the angles and fishing for casualties with a boom and wire rope. Such was the scene of a three-vehicle crash on I-195 eastbound outside Trenton, New Jersey, that left a box truck dangling over the side of a bridge for almost six hours.

The truck was involved in a multi-vehicle crash with a GMC Envoy and Mini Cooper on I-195 at the I-295 interchange. The impact caused the box truck to slam through a guardrail. The driver was removed from the vehicle and suffered minor injuries along with at least two other people. Multiple injuries were reported, but non-life threatening, according to police.

New Jersey State Police called Hawk’s Towing & Recovery to clean up the mess. Hawk’s, based in Trenton, celebrated 30 years in business this past February with owners Brian and Cindy Hawk. Operators at the business include “Little Hawk,” the oldest of their five sons, and brother-in-law James Ford is a heavy operator.

“The State Police called us to respond for a truck that went off the ramp,” Hawk said. “I was close by in one of my MPL-40s, so I went over to see what the situation was. It appeared that the cab of the truck, a 2019 Hino 24-foot box truck, got caught along the edge of a grassy median with the trailer portion coming to a rest on the road below.

“The accident had lanes closed, backing up traffic and causing delays in the area and the police wanted this clear as soon as possible. I knew I would need more than my MPL-40 to handle this and my 25-ton was down south on another job, so I called Mike Risoldi, the president at Risoldi’s Automotive, to assist on this one and he brought out his NRC 80-ton rotator.”

Risoldi’s Automotive was started by Mike and Victoria Risoldi, with Mike’s brother Angelo, in 2000, when they opened a Mobil gas station in Allentown. Risoldi’s currently has five medium-duty carriers, a tri-axle heavy-duty carrier, a 60-ton Jerr-Dan wrecker, a 25-ton Century wrecker, four 4x4 Jerr-Dan MPL40s, two tractors, a Landoll trailer, a 55-ton drop side trailer and their monster NRC 60/80-ton rotator mounted on 2016 Kenworth T800 twin-steer.

Hawk, the scene supervisor on this job, said, “On this job I had operators James Ford, Leroy Green, ‘Little Hawk,’ along with Mike and Angelo Risoldi. We all work great together. When the State Police Incident Management trooper showed up, he was relieved to see we were the ones handling this operation.”

Hawk’s crew brought out their emergency recovery unit, a 2018 Freightliner with a Century bed, another Jerr-Dan MPL-40 and “Bad Behavior,” a 2009 Peterbilt 367 and 2009 Jerr-Dan HDL 1000 50-ton Independent tandem custom heavy. It has a 100,000-lbs. three-stage boom with dual 50,000-lbs. planetary winches and a 25,000-lbs. drag winch.

“The two left lanes were shut down and traffic was backed up in the tunnel,” Hawk said. “We first removed the Mini Cooper and than we winched the GMC Envoy up the hill with one of the MPL-40s and chained it to the guardrail for last until we cleared the box truck out of the way.”

Hawk staged Bad Behavior back at a 45-degree angle at the nose of the box truck and boomed out over the nose. Mike had the NRC rotator staged at the rear and boomed out over the side.

“I picked up on the nose and Mike picked up the [rear],” Hawk said. “We worked in tandem leveling it off as it came up. I boomed in as Mike swung it back in line and we set it down. It was just after 8:30 p.m. when we removed the box truck and cleared the scene.”

All of the casualties were transported to Hawk’s yard in Trenton.

“It was a pleasure working with Mike and Angelo Risoldi,” Hawk said. “This was beautiful teamwork and another job well done by two professional companies. The Incident Management trooper was grateful and called me to come to a meeting with the New Jersey State Police at end of the month.”

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!

Technology Drives Us Forward

About 20 years ago, I worked with a rather seasoned gentleman who would not go near a computer. He claimed that the computer was “a fad, it’ll never last.”

He used to use an electric typewriter, which made a sort of “galloping” sound to type his reports and sales letters. He had a hard time understanding why all the other salespeople in the office were getting answers to their proposals the same day … while it took him up to a week to receive a response.

Fear of technology kept him from being as effective and efficient as he could’ve been.

Fast forward to today. During the seminar series presented at the American Towman ShowPlace-Las Vegas, I saw towmen of all demographics embracing the latest advancements in technology that now make their companies operate in an optimum manner. Instead of shying away from technology—they were running toward it, wanting to know the most effective way of using it in order to run their businesses more efficiently.

Technology helps to move the industry forward. Thank goodness people of all ages in the towing industry sees technology’s benefits.

As for my former colleague, he may still be waiting on an Air Mail delivery.

--Charles Duke

Urgent.ly

Urgent.ly 2ea0fUrgent.ly says they’re different than motor clubs, as they understand service providers. Among other features, the company says they offer towmen great rates, fast digital payment, no minimums and no dues. See what benefits Urgent.ly has to offer at Tow Expo-Dallas, August 15-17 at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.

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By Don Lomax
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I get most of my tow industry news via:
my phone
my laptop/desktop computer
local newspaper
radio/television
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Editor: Charles Duke
Managing Editor: Brendan Dooley
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203,
William Burwell x208, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
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Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
American Towman Wire • 05-23-2019

Ohio May Outlaw Spotters

Tow companies in Ohio that hire “spotters” to watch out for people parking illegally could soon find themselves in trouble with the law. This week, the Transportation and Public Safety Committee in the Ohio House unanimously passed a bill that would make that practice illegal. Violators could be fined up to $500 and face 60 days in jail. The bill is now up for a full House vote and then if it passes it will head to the Senate. The bill only affects tow truck companies. It does not make it illegal for people to call tow truck companies on illegal parking.
Source: fox19.com.

Motorist Arrested for Threatening Tower

A Berea, Ohio, man, 25, was arrested at about 12:45 a.m. on May 13 after he threatened to kill a tower. The towman said he was stopped at a red light. A car turned east toward the tow truck, then turned around and pulled up alongside the tow truck. The towman thought the car driver needed help, so he rolled down his window. The Berea man made an obscene gesture and, using profanities, said he would blow the tower’s “brains out.” The man then turned off his car’s headlights and drove though the red light. The tower called police. A camera on the tow truck had recorded the man’s license plate number, which police used to identify the man.
Source: cleveland.com.

Towman Finds Body in Semi

A tower removing semi trucks parked overnight at a Rockdale, Illinois, gas station found the body of a driver inside one of the trucks. The towman found that one of the trucks was locked from the inside, so he broke the truck open and found the body of a man who appeared to be in his 60s in the sleeper berth. “He’s been here awhile,” said Rockdale Police Chief Robert Dykstra. Foul play is not suspected as a cause of death. Authorities believe that the truck driver died of natural causes. Police aren’t sure how long the man’s body had been inside the truck.
Source: cdllife.com.


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American Towman’s Brian J. Riker will explore the broad scope and reach of the OSH Act, which is where OSHA and related state agencies draw their authority from. It will also discuss the differences between state and federal enforcement. Join Brian for his informative seminar, “OSHA and the Towing Industry,” taking place during Tow Expo-Dallas, August 15-17, at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. Register today! towexpodfw.com

atshowplace.com
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May 22 - May 28, 2019
American Towman’s Terry Abejuela was honored as the 32nd recipient of the California Tow Truck Association’s Rich Chappel Industry Leader Award at a ceremony closing the American Towman ShowPlace-Las Vegas trade show and convention on May 10.

Abejuela Honored with Industry Leader Award

American Towman Field Editor and California Tow Truck Association Light-Duty Instructor Terry Abejuela was honored as the 32nd recipient of the association’s Rich Chappel Industry Leader Award, along with six other honorees. He received the award during CTTA’s Industry Leaders & Awards Night, which concluded the American Towman ShowPlace-Las Vegas trade show and convention May 10.

Abejuela began his towing career after graduating from high school in San Marino. He worked as a tow operator from 1977 to 1982 for four different companies before becoming the Tow & Service Instructor for AAA SoCal in 1982. Abejuela has been supervising tow service support for the Rose Parade since 1989. The noted industry stalwart also is a technical contributor for AAA Tow Service manual, Los Angeles County Office of Education instructor, and the towing expert for the Forensis Group.

Others honorees included: Jay Van Arsdale, Country City Towing; the late Robert Brough, Bruffy’s Del Rey Towing; the late Bill Swink, Swink Enterprises; David McDanell, K.A.R.S Transportation, Inc./Dave’s Fleet Maintenance and Towing; Lewis Bambauer, Bambauer Towing Service; and former CTTA President Sherry White.

Sources: CTTA, AT staff.

Community Comes Together for Towman

The community in North Royalton, Ohio, came together to raise money towards paying medical bills for towman Ronald Urbansky, who lost part of his leg on the job in March. 

The benefit was hosted by his colleagues at Amici Restaurant and Lounge.

Urbansky, of Patton’s Five Star Towing, was loading a car onto his tow truck in Fairview Park when a 2017 Acura struck the front of his truck, which caused his leg to be crushed.

“It was definitely the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced,” Urbanksy said. “I remember it minute by minute.”

He had to have the lower half of his leg amputated and 14 surgeries. 

“I’m glad he’s still alive. I hope he gets back to work, and I hope I get to see him more often,” said friend Nicole Bunch.
 
According to Cleveland Court of Common Pleas records, 35-year-old Roy E. Hollingsworth has been charged with two counts of aggravated vehicular assault, four counts of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and two counts of drug possession.

Source: news5cleveland.com.

FMCSA Requests [b]Comments on Pilot Program

In a notice issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on May 9, the agency has requested comments on a possible second pilot program to allow non-military drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.

FMCSA requested comments on the training, qualifications, driving limitations, and vehicle safety systems that FMCSA should consider in developing options or approaches for a second pilot program for younger drivers.

Comments must be received on or before July 15, 2019. FMCSA encourages participation by submitting comments and related materials.

To submit a comment online, go to regulations.gov, place the docket number (FMCSA-2018-0346) in the “Keyword” box and click search. Click on the “Comment Now” button and type your comment into the text box in the following screen.

Source: regulations.gov.

Data Indicates Violations [b]Are a National Crisis

Rekor Recognition Systems of Hanover, Maryland, recently conducted field studies in conjunction with multiple law enforcement agencies and tow operators in Ohio, Maryland and New York related to Move Over law violations.

The numbers were startling: 1,879 violations during 134 traffic stops.

With an average stop time of 11 minutes, Rekor recorded approximately 14 violations per stop during the test period.

“That’s 14 times per stop that a roadside worker’s life was in danger because of a violation of the Move Over law,” the report said. “This is just a small sample size, imagine the numbers when extrapolated on a national scale.”

Rekor’s Move Over field studies were conducted using the company’s proprietary technology that captures violations in real-time using multiple high-resolution video cameras, digital tracking radar and AI-based license plate recognition software.

Source: officer.com.

Austin, Texas, to Consider [b]Tow Fee Increase

At a May 14 Urban Transportation Commission meeting, the Austin (Texas) Police Department’s Highway Enforcement Command made its case for its first fee increase since 2006—from $150 to $195—using research and data, like the cost of living, to come up with the number.

For Tasha Mora and her employees at A&A Wrecker and Recovery, an increase means better wages and higher productivity.

“It’s trying to get these providers there as quick as possible, as soon as possible, as safe as possible, and clear that roadway. There is a lot of training involved, and there’s also a lot of liability that we’re exposed to,” Mora said. “And to be able to provide that service, we absorb that liability, and there’s cost involved in doing so.”

While APD supports a fee increase for police-initiated, non-consent tows, it remains neutral on non-consent tows involving private property. The city council, however, will decide whether to approve a fee increase for both types of tows in June.

Source: kvue.com.

Tow Company to Donate [b]Van to Family in Need

A tow company in Brick Township, New Jersey, wants to donate a minivan to a family in need. Joe’s Towing and Auto said in a message that the staff would like to give the minivan to “a family or person in need of a little help.”

The vehicle’s new owner will be chosen May 25 and the shop will pay for the initial registration fee.

“Joe’s Towing & Auto hopes to continue this process each year,” the message said. “We want to thank everyone for all their continued support and business.”

Source: brick.shorebeat.com.
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May 22 - May 28, 2019

Dangling and Angling in Jersey

1 7afe0by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Angling is the sport of fishing with a rod and reel. Recovery is the science of knowing the angles and fishing for casualties with a boom and wire rope. Such was the scene of a three-vehicle crash on I-195 eastbound outside Trenton, New Jersey, that left a box truck dangling over the side of a bridge for almost six hours.

The truck was involved in a multi-vehicle crash with a GMC Envoy and Mini Cooper on I-195 at the I-295 interchange. The impact caused the box truck to slam through a guardrail. The driver was removed from the vehicle and suffered minor injuries along with at least two other people. Multiple injuries were reported, but non-life threatening, according to police.

New Jersey State Police called Hawk’s Towing & Recovery to clean up the mess. Hawk’s, based in Trenton, celebrated 30 years in business this past February with owners Brian and Cindy Hawk. Operators at the business include “Little Hawk,” the oldest of their five sons, and brother-in-law James Ford is a heavy operator.

“The State Police called us to respond for a truck that went off the ramp,” Hawk said. “I was close by in one of my MPL-40s, so I went over to see what the situation was. It appeared that the cab of the truck, a 2019 Hino 24-foot box truck, got caught along the edge of a grassy median with the trailer portion coming to a rest on the road below.

“The accident had lanes closed, backing up traffic and causing delays in the area and the police wanted this clear as soon as possible. I knew I would need more than my MPL-40 to handle this and my 25-ton was down south on another job, so I called Mike Risoldi, the president at Risoldi’s Automotive, to assist on this one and he brought out his NRC 80-ton rotator.”

Risoldi’s Automotive was started by Mike and Victoria Risoldi, with Mike’s brother Angelo, in 2000, when they opened a Mobil gas station in Allentown. Risoldi’s currently has five medium-duty carriers, a tri-axle heavy-duty carrier, a 60-ton Jerr-Dan wrecker, a 25-ton Century wrecker, four 4x4 Jerr-Dan MPL40s, two tractors, a Landoll trailer, a 55-ton drop side trailer and their monster NRC 60/80-ton rotator mounted on 2016 Kenworth T800 twin-steer.

Hawk, the scene supervisor on this job, said, “On this job I had operators James Ford, Leroy Green, ‘Little Hawk,’ along with Mike and Angelo Risoldi. We all work great together. When the State Police Incident Management trooper showed up, he was relieved to see we were the ones handling this operation.”

Hawk’s crew brought out their emergency recovery unit, a 2018 Freightliner with a Century bed, another Jerr-Dan MPL-40 and “Bad Behavior,” a 2009 Peterbilt 367 and 2009 Jerr-Dan HDL 1000 50-ton Independent tandem custom heavy. It has a 100,000-lbs. three-stage boom with dual 50,000-lbs. planetary winches and a 25,000-lbs. drag winch.

“The two left lanes were shut down and traffic was backed up in the tunnel,” Hawk said. “We first removed the Mini Cooper and than we winched the GMC Envoy up the hill with one of the MPL-40s and chained it to the guardrail for last until we cleared the box truck out of the way.”

Hawk staged Bad Behavior back at a 45-degree angle at the nose of the box truck and boomed out over the nose. Mike had the NRC rotator staged at the rear and boomed out over the side.

“I picked up on the nose and Mike picked up the [rear],” Hawk said. “We worked in tandem leveling it off as it came up. I boomed in as Mike swung it back in line and we set it down. It was just after 8:30 p.m. when we removed the box truck and cleared the scene.”

All of the casualties were transported to Hawk’s yard in Trenton.

“It was a pleasure working with Mike and Angelo Risoldi,” Hawk said. “This was beautiful teamwork and another job well done by two professional companies. The Incident Management trooper was grateful and called me to come to a meeting with the New Jersey State Police at end of the month.”

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!

Night Moves – Workin’ on the Railroad

0 5fd00By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

McGuire's Towing & Recovery in Ashland, Kentucky, is a family-owned and operated business started by Michael and Barbara McGuire in October 1988. They now co-own the business with sons Sam and Steven.

On February 21, 2019, McGuire's received a call to recover a railroad truck.

“At 5 p.m.,” Sam said, “we were called for a Freightliner railroad truck that had gone down beside the tracks and slid over the hill towards the river in Russell, Kentucky, just outside of Ashland.”

The driver of the railroad truck initially made the call to McGuire’s office for a quicker response to the scene.

“Our dispatcher advised him she would get a truck headed that way,” Sam said, “and the driver, in the meantime, called his fleet service and advised them of the situation and that he had contacted us.”

Sam and Steven, both WreckMaster 6/7s, responded. Sam with his 2018 Peterbilt/Century 1150 50-ton rotator and Steven in their 2018 Dodge 5500/Century 2465 medium-duty to assist. The 2465 is equipped with twin 12,000-lbs. planetary winches. Once on scene they assessed the situation.

“When we arrived,” Sam said, “we saw the driver had tied his truck off to the tracks to prevent it from sliding over any further. We looked the situation over and came up with a plan.”

There was no way for the brothers to get a second truck in front of the casualty, so they had a track inspector and the yard master respond to the scene and told them how they planned to recover the casualty.

“Our plan was to run the drag winch to the front end by using a 4x6 placed on the inside of the tracks with a chain wrapped around the wood pulling on three plates holding the tracks in place,” Sam said. “We also did the same thing to the rear of the truck with one line off of the boom. The third line from the boom ran to the rear of the casualty to winch backwards.

“As the truck began to come back,” he said, “we would winch it sideways to come up the bank. We moved the rotator up and proceeded with this process again until we reached the hard packed ballast (rock) on the rail bed.”

After the casualty was freed, the yard master and track inspector examined the tracks and gave Sam and Steven the all-clear. Total time on scene was two hours and the driver was able to drive the casualty back to his fleet office.

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!

Trash Talkin’

0 48764by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Some days a little excitement can be found right in your own backyard.

Battelini’s Garage, co-owned by brothers Albert and Anthony with their father, Dominick, was recently contacted by the owner of a trash truck that was ablaze.

“They are a regular customer,” Albert said. “For unknown reasons, one of their trash trucks caught fire behind our shop, on Weymouth Road and Route 40 in Landisville, New Jersey, at around 2 p.m. on April 18th.”

Albert, Anthony and operators Matt Williams and Josh Paneleone mounted up and headed out. Al responded with Unit #8212, his “Ole 12” wrecker, a 1982 Western Star set up with a 1986 3500 NRC heavy. It’s a 40-ton unit with a three-stage fixed boom and a 35,000-lbs. under reach. It also has a 60,000-lbs. Braden drag winch.

“The ‘Ole 12’ is the best unit we have ever owned and it still works every day. Very strong!” Albert exclaimed.

Besides Ole12, they brought their 2015 Kenworth T880/NRC 40/50CSR, their Ford backhoe and their Bobcat skid-steer with grapple attachment. This NRC 40/50CSR has a three-stage boom with a 50-ton capacity and dual 40,000-lbs. planetary winches.

The trash truck was loaded with cardboard recycling, so it was burning very hot.

“Once the fire was out,” Albert said, “the pins on the rear door were removed and it was lifted with our NRC 40/50 to gain access to the load.”

Dominick was on-scene with a ringside seat in his wheelchair keeping an eye on things.

The load was removed with a backhoe and their skid-steer with the grapple attachment and loaded into roll off. With the trash truck emptied, the crew rigged Ole 12 in the front of the trash truck with 2-1/2” chains and a two-part line with the boom fully extended. The 40/50 rotator was in the rear with 1/2” chain around the frame and body. Once lifted, the boom on rotator was spun to the left boom on Ole 12, it was retracted and the trash truck was lifted and positioned onto the roadway away from the debris.

Al explained, “Once the trash truck was back on the road, Ole 12 was hooked to the front with its under-reach and the rear was hooked with the under-reach of the 40/50. Once the entire truck was lifted, Ole 12 pulled ahead 100 yards onto Route 40 pulling the trash truck and the rotator. Once on Route 40 the rotator pulled forward pulling the trash truck and Ole 12 backwards and carried it to our yard about a quarter mile.”

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!
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City, State
RATES

Independence, MO
$200
(Pop. 116,830)

Arvada, CO
$95
(Pop. 111,707)

Providence, RI
$82
(Pop. 179,154)

Fort Lauderdale, FL
$105
(Pop. 165,521)

Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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May 22 - May 28, 2019

Driveshaft Removal and Retention

driveshaft1 1e52fBy Randall C. Resch

Here’s one for the “Are You Kidding Me” department. The following incident is an example of a spontaneous occurrence that resulted in huge and expensive damages to an RV while in process of being towed; something that’s generally routine and typically uneventful.

A Texas tow company was called to tow a broke-down RV with a broken radiator. The RV’s owner contacted their auto club provider who dispatched the tow company. The source narrative online laid claim that, “The driver was clearly unqualified to handle the tow and failed to bring the proper tools to secure the driveshaft so that it would not drag along the pavement.” The driveshaft, still connected, allegedly dropped to the pavement, throwing sparks to the RV’s underside, catching the rig on-fire totally destroying it. The lawsuit was seeking an award between $200,000 and $1 million.

Dangling a loose and disconnected driveshaft is always risky business. There are better ways to ensure a disconnected driveshaft stays with the towed vehicle and doesn’t launch while enroute to a towing destination and at freeways speeds. A loose driveshaft, dropping onto the highway and into the path of a following vehicle, is capable of great bodily injury or death.

If you know anything about frivolous lawsuits regarding tow company actions, statements like these are easy for a plaintiff to make and relatively difficult for the tow company to defend. So, let’s break down these two statements.

Unqualified driver: That statement is a hard pill to swallow when it attacks the very core of your company’s competency. Because driveshaft removal is a specialty niche, tow companies should be trained in the processes to safely remove driveshafts and axles. Large commercial trucks, RV/motorhomes and diesel pusher buses are equipped with varying drive systems. In order to safely tow one of these larger-than-average vehicles, and prevent consequential damage to a driveshaft or the vehicle’s transmission, the vehicle should be transported on a low boy-type trailer. It’s recommended that driveshafts and axles be completely loosened and removed, or retained with a specialty accessory designed for retaining and suspending driveshafts from the undersides of vehicles being towed.

Failure to bring proper tools: Be smart about having the right tool for the job in relation to the task being performed. Example: a motorcycle dolly for safely winching a full-dress Goldwing 1800 (weighing-in at a 900-plus pounds) is the right accessory for the job vs. only using 1” ratchet straps. Although the ratchet straps will get the job done, the motorcycle dolly offers additional mechanical advantages to safe load and transport.

When it comes to driveshafts, the towing and recovery industry has advanced beyond the use of coat hangers, bungee cords and duct tape for the process of securing a loose driveshaft. In today’s market of advanced industry tools and accessories, tow trucks should be well-equipped with a bevy of wrenches, sockets, air tools, axle poppers, axle caps, U-joint pullers, and perhaps a Driveline Buddy tool.

When cases like these come to court, it’s difficult to convince a district court judge that the old industry ways are better that new technologies and modern equipment. It’s equally important to consider updating training and purchasing specialty tools for specialty tasks like these.

Owners, be smart about attaining proper training for your drivers to prevent unfortunate incidents like this. The first place that always is attacked is your driver’s “inability” to handle the task. Secondly, ask yourself if the proper accessory or tool’s initial purchase cost is worth avoiding a lawsuit?

Roadside Inspections, What to Expect

inspection training c509cBrian J Riker

Although many towers are familiar with law enforcement interactions, not many towers are intimately familiar with motor carrier enforcement officers. Commonly referred to as the DOT, these officers are charged with commercial vehicle safety.

For those that run mostly local you may go months, even years without any interaction with DOT enforcement. Others are inspected almost weekly. It all depends on the location you are in and if your State has any special exceptions for tow trucks.

In most states any vehicle over 10,000 pounds is subject to roadside inspections and weighing. A few states require trucks as light as 8,000 pounds to enter scale facilities, while a few exempt trucks under 26,000 pounds.

Some states must first observe a violation before inspecting a commercial vehicle. These states generally will have very strict tolerances for speeding, often using a warning as a reason to make contact with and inspect commercial vehicles. The scary part for towers is these inspections usually take place on the shoulder of the highway and may last up to 45 minutes.

It makes compliance confusing when operating outside your normal area. If in doubt and without clear signage, I suggest pulling into any open weigh stations or port of entry facilities and follow the direction given by the officers or electronic signage. There is no penalty for entering an inspection facility when not required; but there could be a substantial penalty for bypassing a required facility.

Once there, you should expect an introduction from the officer along with clear instructions on what they are looking for. Expect to be asked for your driver license, medical card, vehicle registration and load paperwork. The officer will usually then return to their vehicle and begin an inspection report. Many times all the officer is checking for is driver and vehicle paperwork. If all is in order, you will be given an inspection report and released.

The officer may also decide to conduct a vehicle inspection where they will inspect tires, lights, brakes, safety components and more. These inspections usually last 30-45 minutes and may result in the officer crawling under your vehicle to fully inspect it.

Many police officers are qualified to conduct commercial vehicle enforcement activities. Some states use civilian inspectors to assist the officers with inspections or weighing operations.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance sets the North American Out of Service criteria as well as certifies all motor carrier enforcement officers in the US and Canada. CVSA is comprised of members from the enforcement community, trucking and bus industry as well as regulatory agencies and other stakeholders. CVSA classifies their inspections into 8 levels, however towers typically will only be subjected to 3 levels of inspection.

Level I is the most detailed inspection, usually lasting 45 minutes. In this inspection the driver, vehicle and paperwork will be thoroughly inspected including under the vehicle and the engine compartment.

Level II covers most of the same items as Level I, except the inspector will not get under the vehicle or open the engine compartment.

Level III is a driver/credential inspection. This is the most common inspection, typically taking 15-20 minutes to complete. The inspector will check only the credentials of the driver, vehicle and load paperwork. Note, if they notice a readily visible inspection they may change the inspection to a Level I or II and complete a more thorough inspection.

It is not uncommon for local municipal officers to conduct truck enforcement, or traffic officers to conduct Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Level III inspections.

There are other instances where a specific item or system, even type of vehicle, will be targeted, such as CVSA’s Operation Road Check, June 4-6. This is an international effort with inspectors in the US, Canada and Mexico inspecting about 17 vehicles-per-minute during the 72-hour blitz. They will be conducting primarily Level I inspections focusing on brake, steering and suspension components.

CVSA will also conduct Safe Driver Week, July 14-20, focusing on speeding, tailgating and distracted driving in and around commercial vehicles.

The bottom line on commercial vehicle inspections is to be prepared. Conduct a daily pre-trip inspection and do a walk around inspection any time you stop and be sure your paperwork is in order. Keep all your truck documents in a folder, separated by document type.

Conduct yourself in a professional manner. Be polite, give short but accurate answers to only the questions asked and remember that the officer is only doing their job. The roadside is not the place to argue; that is what the court system is for.

Reminder, any inspection reports showing defects need to be corrected, signed and submitted to the agency that issued the report within 15 days. Signing and submitting the report, or a citation, is not an admission of guilty. You may still challenge a citation in court or an inspection violation via the DataQ procedure.

Brian J Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC. He specializes in helping non-traditional fleets such as towing, repossession, and construction companies navigate the complex world of Federal and State transportation regulatory compliance. With 25 years of experience in the ditch as a tow operator Brian truly understands the unique needs and challenges faced by towing companies today. He can be reached at brian.riker@fleetcompliancesolutions.net

Right to Privacy and On-Scene Photography

13copy 1540aBy Randall C. Resch

(Author's Note: This narrative is intended as a basis of training only and not to be considered legal advice.)

No visual statement is more accurate and necessary when it comes to protecting your company than photos. Documenting pre-existing tow damages or photo-recording recovery work on-scene lends to solid proof for invoice billing. When vehicle owners make false claims that you’ve damaged their vehicle, the difference between thrown out cases vs. you paying up may be the photo evidence.

Photographs best document vehicle damages and conditions when photos are specific to a vehicle’s damage and its condition when the tow occurs. Photos are especially valuable during big rig recoveries to document a recovery scene

At minimum, photos that depict ALL sides, front and rear should be the basis of your photo inventory. This is especially true for exotic vehicles, motorcycles, boat trailers, boat propellers and on-site recovery damages.

When specific damages are observed in areas common to tow damages, close-up damages are key to your defense of “no foul.” Here are several areas common to tow damages that should match the vehicle’s tow inventory report:

• ALL surface areas
• Front and rear valances
• Scratched window tint
• Dented/leaking oil pans
• Constant velocity boots
• Bent A-frames or suspension
• Cracked/broken glass
• Scratched window tint
• Inside door jambs (unlocks)
• Mufflers and tailpipes
• Curb-rub damage on rims
• Drag marks front and rear or sides of motorcycle plastics

Photos take up a lot of memory. Dedicate a secondary computer to photo storage. At minimum, purchase a high-capacity memory stick, or perhaps a personal laptop for photo storage and portability.

Software systems are available that photograph vehicles as they enter tow facilities. Dedicate one employee to be the company’s photo historian having them prepare photo inventory sheets for auctions and vehicle sales. You’ll find that your company’s web page will show renewed interest if actual photos accompany your auction inventory.

State law may require photos for private property impounds. Photo evidence is your best evidence when vehicles are impounded from red zones, violation of signs and/or from regulated handicapped parking. It’s hard for a vehicle’s owner to refute that they weren’t parked in these areas if you have pictures.

What about Drones?

Drone-borne cameras are new technology in the world of first responders. If used to record towing and recovery incidents, a dedicated drone operator should not be part of the recovery crew; instead their focus is on flying the drone and recording. Don’t forget there are restrictions to where the drone can be operated, especially if the crash scene requires air rescue.

Because drones are new technology, you may not be able to charge for their use depending on contract. While some tow owners suggest that drone footage is most valuable to tow operators working on-scene for safety purposes, insurance companies are reluctant to pay “use of drone photography” charges noted on recovery invoices. Regarding insurance billing, insurance companies aren’t yet willing to accept the value of drone footage that you’re intending to charge for.

Regardless as to how you intend to employ drone capability, be sure you have permission from the officer on-scene or the Incident Commander in charge of the scene.

Privacy

Can towers take pictures at recovery scenes? Does the public share right-to-privacy laws that say you can’t take photos or their faces or their vehicles if you’re standing in a public place?

The California Highway Patrol says towers can’t photograph a scene unless it’s for billing purposes. Is this for liability purposes or they don’t want an officer’s picture in your photos?

Always be aware of faces, names and license plates of non-involved vehicles, company interests or individuals that aren’t specific to the recording as you could be sued. This goes for those overzealous tow operators who submit crash and fatality photos on their favorite websites.

Photo documentation is a timely and necessary function for your business when used in the proper manner. No tow truck should be without a modern digital camera. Photos should represent the specific purpose of documentation, training, pre-tow damages, or the incident at hand; not for the purpose of online entertainment—know the difference.

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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May 22 - May 28, 2019

Sgt. Mack: A Labor of Love

1SAS 75f79By George L. Nitti

For some tow owners, the graphics on their tow trucks become a labor of love, as they put their heart and soul (and wallet) into creating an awesome design.

Jeremy McClintock, owner of SAS Towing & Recovery in Jarrell, Texas, fell so in love with designing wraps that he recently decided to expand his operations to include doing wraps under his company name.

“I like graphics, I like images,” he said.

Perhaps the catalyst for this venture was a masterful military tribute wrap on which he spent many hours.

“We bought a 2003 Mack Granite with a Challenger 30-ton XP-8 Side-Puller,” he said. “Its old color scheme was nothing I wanted. I had an idea, which I put on paper and then spent over 30 hours working with a designer to make it happen.”

It’s new color scheme, with a vibrantly textured background, was partly inspired by an old World War II bomber, as it mimics the riveted plated metal and brush metal layering on the main background of the unit.

McClintock wanted to give tribute to the branches of the military, feeling that today’s “political propaganda” has taken away from what matters, such as honoring the men and women of our military.

“I wanted to thank everyone that serves,” he said.

The emblems/insignia of each branch of the military are rendered throughout the entire unit. Other designs include an image of a Freedom Eagle, inspired by an old school crest that dates back to George Washington; an American Flag that drapes over part of the wrecker; the large star of the bomber plane on the hood and a striking image of a fallen soldier on the side.

The design of this unit contains many fine touches, all the way down to its grille, with glowing decals that colorfully and patriotically spell out the name “Mack.”

“Pound for pound, Sgt. Mack is hard to beat,” said McClintock.

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!

Retro Striping Carries Tradition

0 f4fe2By George L. Nitti

Although many tow companies steer away from keeping an original paint job, some factory schemes leave a lasting impression.

Such is the case with Mal’s Auto & Truck Service of Old Saybrook, Connecticut. In the mid ’70s, the company purchased several heavy-duty tow trucks from Peterbilt that contained the now classic multi-striped signature factory design.

Owner Ed White, who purchased the company in 1985, opted to carry on that design.

Mal’s uses custom paint to replicate the classic Peterbilt design, such as it appears on their 2007 Peterbilt 379/Century 1075 rotator.

“It took about a month to custom paint it,” White said. “What has changed about the striping are the colors, as we have gone with different tones of gold, purple, silver, black and white in order to match our own distinct branding. The base color of the truck is black.”

The fact that it is retro makes it stand out all the more.

“It’s different from everybody else’s,” White said proudly.

The company logo, small and understated, helps “Mal’s” pop-out in key places such as the side doors, boom and back of the unit.

“When I bought the company, there was no special logo,” said White.

The gradient-infused lettering, going from white to purple, is enhanced by a purple shadow melding with the gold and purple multi-stripes.

Like many tow companies that work around the clock, it is no surprise to find the business operating 24/7.

White said, “On some of our trucks you will find our slogan ‘We never sleep.’ ”

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!

Paying Homage to the ’57 Chevy Bel Air

0 2bd3fBy George L. Nitti

In the fast-growing environs of Hernando, Mississippi, Bel Air Towing prides itself on its customer service while specializing in damage-free towing for luxury, classic and sports cars, imports, exotics and hot rods.

A one-man operation, the nearly two-year-old company has quickly found its niche, carved out by owner Jason Johnston, who has always had a passion for old cars.

“I like anything vintage,” Johnston said. “I have built tons of cars and have had to call plenty of tow trucks to have them moved around.”

One classic car on the top of his list is the name he has given his company: the classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air. “It’s the ultimate car convertible for me,” he said.

It’s no wonder then that on the side of the company’s 2014 Freightliner/Century 21’ rollback, its jumbo-sized logo pays homage to Johnston’s passion. It’s a design taken from the ’57 Chevy Bel Air itself, particularly the large, memorable scripted lettering at the beginning of each of the words in its name.

“I know the lettering has a ‘retro’ feeling,” he said. “On the back panel of the bed, the logo is more embellished, with the crest of the ’57 Chevy sitting behind it on a black diamond plate. I get a lot of compliments. Some say, ‘It’s the pretty truck going down the road.’ ”

The logo, done in 3M reflective vinyl by local company Signs and Stuff, was designed by Graphic Disorder.

According to Johnston, they’re “super well-known in the hot rod world.”

“Since I have a background in show cars—they are real low to the ground—I’m kind of known in that circle,” Johnston said. “Many tow companies don’t want to touch them because of the added liability. I get all of the crazy stuff like a Mercedes-Benz with an electronic shifter that you can’t mechanically manipulate. I get calls for Corvette. You can sit there and watch me NOT tear it up. I specialize in that.”

Johnston’s foray as a towman began from a seedling planted 15 years ago, after talking to a buddy who owned a towing company in Kentucky. After a long-time stint as a managing supervisor in a company that folded, Johnston decided to form Bel Air Towing with a focus on customer service.

On the company website is a quote from legendary quarterback Roger Staubach, “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”

The “extra mile” refers to what Johnston calls customer service, the kind of service that gas station attendants once provided when they came out to clean your windows and check your oil.

“I’ve always been into good customer service,” he said. “Around here if you are on a Level 5, I want to be on a Level 10.”

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!
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May 22 - May 28, 2019

Fuso

fusocopy b609aFuso’s new Fuso FE180 gasoline-powered cabover truck is designed to allow for increased payload for truck owners needing a boost from the market’s traditional Class 4 offerings in gasoline-powered trucks.

The truck is powered by a GM 6.0L V-8 engine delivering 297 hp and 361-lbs./ft. of torque, combined with a commercial-grade Allison 1000 Series transmission that is PTO-capable. Fuso includes the FuelSense 2.0 featuring DynActive Shifting from Allison that can provide a 2-percent to 6-percent improvement in fuel economy.

mitfuso.com

Hot Shot’s Severe Duty Transmission Fluid

HotShotsSecretTransmission Fluid 78c9aHot Shot’s Secret now offers a new line of transmission fluids and gear oils for use in severe-duty applications. The Blue Diamond Severe Duty formulas are for all vehicles that experience heavy loads, towing or challenging terrain including commercial or utility vehicles, semis and other vehicles where there is an excessive demand on transmissions and gears. The company said the formulas offer multiple benefits that provide longer transmission and gear protection and performance with extended drain intervals. Available in:
• Blue Diamond Severe Duty Transmission Fluid is offered in a multi-vehicle ATF  and a version for Ford Type F/Allison C4-spec transmissions.
• Blue Diamond Severe Duty Gear Oil is offered in 75W-90, 80W-110 and 85W-140.

hotshotsecret.com
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May 22 - May 28, 2019
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May 22 - May 28, 2019
Repossession agent Petr Cherepanov was shot while sitting in his tow truck the morning of April 26. At least four shots were fired, one shattering the back windshield. Image - local10.com.

Man Killed in Repo Altercation

Houston police arrested a repo man after a vehicle repossession turned deadly recently.

Police say repo agent Oscar Lee Harrison, 33, was repossessing an SUV when the owner, Alberto Nduli, 68, tried stopping him.

Harrison continued to drive with the SUV in tow, and Nduli was thrown from the vehicle, fatally striking his head on the concrete, police said.

Harrison dropped the SUV off at the repo company lot before returning to the scene where he was arrested. He was charged with failure to stop and render aid.

“By his own admissions ... [the driver] knew there was an altercation,” said Sean Teare, chief of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Vehicular Crimes Division. “He knew the owner of the vehicle was there and involved in a crash.”

Now Nduli’s family is grappling with the sudden loss of the Congolese native and father of seven, who came to America about 20 years ago and worked as a security guard.

“It’s emotional,” said Nduli’s sister-in-law. “You’re sleeping [beside] someone and they go outside to talk with a worker. Now [he’s gone] forever.”

Source: newser.com.

Wrongful Repo Ruins Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day morning in Phoenix, Arizona, Bobbie Jones woke up to find her prized Cadillac Escalade gone.

“It just ruined our whole day,” Bobbie said.

She canceled Mother’s Day celebrations and made dozens of phone calls to police, a tow company and the loan outfit, TitleMax, to determine what happened to the Escalade.

“I see my kids every Mother’s Day and I didn’t even get to see them this Mother’s Day,” Bobbie said.

Surveillance video from a neighbor’s house on midnight Saturday shows what happened: A car and tow truck pull up to the house. Two men go to work out of the camera’s view, and within minutes, they drive away with Bobbie’s SUV.

Police confirmed TitleMax repossessed the vehicle. At one time there was a lien on it. But the Escalade had since been sold to a car dealership. Bobbie bought it outright from the dealership in March.

TitleMax declined to comment on the error and why it took two days to give the Jones’ their Escalade back.

The company has an F rating from the Better Business Bureau. Several similar incidents involving TitleMax in Arizona are under investigation.

Source: 12news.com.

On-Hook Integrates [b]Recovery Data

Recovery Database Network, a business unit of KAR Auction Services, recently launched its On-Hook Status feature that enables recovery agents and automotive lenders to track the repossession status of a vehicle in real time. On-Hook fully integrates Clearplan data, enabling lenders to be notified instantly that the repossession is complete.

A green, yellow or red status color code in the Clearplan app indicates whether recovery agents can proceed, hold or cancel the repossession. It protects agents against unintended repossessions and provides them with increased operational efficiency, greater access to lenders, and seamlessly integrated third-party services.

“On-Hook Status is just the first product enhancement to come from the alliance of RDN and Clearplan. Recovery agents can now check status and process collateral recovery information seamlessly through the Clearplan app, reducing the need for multiple system logins and the potential for error,” said Justin Zane, president/CEO of RDN.

RDN and Clearplan are complementary business units of KAR Auction Services that connect thousands of recovery agents and automotive lenders to a streamlined vehicle recovery process with reduced redundancies and increased actionable data. 

Source: KAR Auction Services.

Repo Agent Shot [b]While Sitting in Truck

A Florida repo agent was shot while sitting in his tow truck in northwest Miami-Dade County April 26, police said.

The shooting occurred about 5:30 a.m.

Miami-Dade police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta said the driver was sitting in his tow truck in a parking lot when someone inside a dark gray Ford Fusion opened fire at him and an assistant, who was in another vehicle.

Zabaleta said the shooter or shooters then fled in a black Infinity Q50 that had been repossessed.

The driver, Petr Cherepanov, 31, was struck by a bullet fragment and drove himself to the hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

Zabaleta said Cherepanov's assistant, Cristian Fernandez, 23, wasn't struck.

Three bullet holes could be seen in the front windshield of the tow truck. The back windshield was shattered.

Source: local10.com.

Night Moves – Workin’ on the Railroad

0 5fd00By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

McGuire's Towing & Recovery in Ashland, Kentucky, is a family-owned and operated business started by Michael and Barbara McGuire in October 1988. They now co-own the business with sons Sam and Steven.

On February 21, 2019, McGuire's received a call to recover a railroad truck.

“At 5 p.m.,” Sam said, “we were called for a Freightliner railroad truck that had gone down beside the tracks and slid over the hill towards the river in Russell, Kentucky, just outside of Ashland.”

The driver of the railroad truck initially made the call to McGuire’s office for a quicker response to the scene.

“Our dispatcher advised him she would get a truck headed that way,” Sam said, “and the driver, in the meantime, called his fleet service and advised them of the situation and that he had contacted us.”

Sam and Steven, both WreckMaster 6/7s, responded. Sam with his 2018 Peterbilt/Century 1150 50-ton rotator and Steven in their 2018 Dodge 5500/Century 2465 medium-duty to assist. The 2465 is equipped with twin 12,000-lbs. planetary winches. Once on scene they assessed the situation.

“When we arrived,” Sam said, “we saw the driver had tied his truck off to the tracks to prevent it from sliding over any further. We looked the situation over and came up with a plan.”

There was no way for the brothers to get a second truck in front of the casualty, so they had a track inspector and the yard master respond to the scene and told them how they planned to recover the casualty.

“Our plan was to run the drag winch to the front end by using a 4x6 placed on the inside of the tracks with a chain wrapped around the wood pulling on three plates holding the tracks in place,” Sam said. “We also did the same thing to the rear of the truck with one line off of the boom. The third line from the boom ran to the rear of the casualty to winch backwards.

“As the truck began to come back,” he said, “we would winch it sideways to come up the bank. We moved the rotator up and proceeded with this process again until we reached the hard packed ballast (rock) on the rail bed.”

After the casualty was freed, the yard master and track inspector examined the tracks and gave Sam and Steven the all-clear. Total time on scene was two hours and the driver was able to drive the casualty back to his fleet office.

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!
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