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Last minute rulemaking decision puts industry in jeopardy.
Container of Gas along with tractor-trailer goes a long way down and makes for long day's work.
Cautionary advice to stay vigilant on that white-line
Pitbull mascot adds mug to company prowess.
New patented technology offers breakthrough for towing industry.
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing February 28 - March 05, 2024

American Towman Today - March 01, 2024
American Towman Today - March 01, 2024
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Tower Booked for Unsolicited Tow 

Published: Friday, March 01, 2024

A Florida towman discovered that the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) does not look kindly upon towing companies that show up unsolicited at the scene of an accident and haul away a car. The towman. Marc Charles, was booked for violating Florida law. 

The incident happened after four vehicles collided along I-95 near West Palm Beach. According to the trooper’s statement, after the stranded vehicle’s owner confirmed he had not called anyone about getting his car moved, FHP enlisted a tow-truck driver to transport the gray Honda Accord. The company called was selected using the FHP rotation schedule, which determines which tow company from an authorized list will move a vehicle. 

Before the authorized tow truck arrived, according to the report, Charles pulled up in his wrecker offered to transport the Honda. The car’s owner reportedly paid the driver $149 using his credit card to haul away his Honda, telling the trooper he did not know which company had been assigned. 

The owner of the Honda remembered the name of the company on the side of the tow truck and the trooper was able to track down the company and question the tower and dispatcher. Both denied any wrongdoing, claiming they were licensed. 

The trooper said the dispatcher and the driver were both told they violated the state law that barred unauthorized tow trucks that drive by a crash scene and offering to move the vehicle before an authorized wrecker arrived. 

According to the report, Charles was arrested.


The Florida Highway Patrol arrested a Florida towman for an unauthorizied tow.

Alpha Dog to the Rescue 

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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By George L. Nitti 

Ideas for graphic design sometimes come as an epiphany in the middle of the night. Hell, Paul McCartney had a dream of his mother giving him solace in a time of trouble and woke up penning the words and music to “Let It Be.” 

Ted Baldwin, owner of Alpha Towing, had an epiphany one night too. A thought came into his head: “We Do it with Straps and Chains,” and that idea was eventually realized as a catchy slogan on his tow trucks. 

His most recent purchase from Atlanta Wrecker Sales was a black 2024 MV International 22 ft. JerrDan rollback which prominently highlights the slogan that turns heads. 

“We even get requests for tee-shirts,” said Baldwin. 

Alpha Towing LLC, located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was established in 2016. 

“I didn’t know anything about the towing business,” said Baldwin. 

Another epiphany arose when he decided to use his pitbull Bubba as the company mascot.  

“I rescued Bubba,” he said. “They are an alpha dog.” 

Bubba ended up on Baldwin’s doorstep and after going unclaimed for several days, moved in with Baldwin. 

“Bubba used to love to ride in the truck, but now he is older and his hips are not as good. He doesn’t like the airbrakes on the trucks,” said Baldwin. “But he does still like to come into the office, where he hangs out all day. He still goes out on the parades. Everybody knows Bubba. Pitbulls have that stigma but he’s not mean at all.” 

The Alpha name carries a lot of weight when it comes to being called from a rotation, indicated Baldwin. 

“We are always on the top of the list,” he said. “We are on nine different police rotations, and we are the primary service provider for AAA in Spartanburg County.” 

The new unit, one of nine flatbeds in the Alpha fleet, is decked out with extra storage boxes and plenty of lights. 

“If we need something, Atlanta Wrecker Sales bend over backwards to make it happen.  As far as my rollbacks go, they are my go-to.” 

Tribute to the 2023 Fallen Towman; 2 Families Standing up for Roadside Safety in wake of tragedy
By Don Lomax
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February 28 - March 05, 2024
A report by a local media station in El Paso County (Southern Colorado) found more abandoned vehicles lingering on the roadways due to a county policy to put the responsibility on vehicle owners.

Cost Savings Cause for More Abandoned Vehicles

Published: Thursday, February 29, 2024

A report has found that vehicles stranded on Colorado Spring roadways, including El Paso County, are taking longer to get towed. In an attempt to save money from the county assuming responsibility for the tows, the policy aims to put the onus on vehicle owners. Quicker tows will occur only if stranded vehicles are a perceived hazard. The report was conducted by local media station KRDO13, where they found multiple abandoned vehicles on a major interstate and other roadways.  

According to Vanessa Jones, unit manager of the Colorado Springs Police Department Community Service Division, "Well, on the Interstate, you know, again, if it's a hazard, we're going to get it removed. If it is off the shoulder, and not causing a hazard, it does take us at least 72 hours, maybe longer. We try to tag it. We want to give them a chance to take care of that vehicle and in some circumstances, it does take longer because, you know, we have a large amount of calls for service.”  

Jones says that CSPD's Community Service Officers say that they placed 710 tags on cars along city highways and Interstate 25, but had to tow less than 10% of them in 2023. 

The City of Colorado Springs' Neighborhood Services is in charge of abandoned cars within the city neighborhood, and the main roads, boulevards, and avenues. Before the agency assumed responsibility of the program, the city says that CSPD was towing upwards of 290 cars per month, whether in an accident or crime-related vehicles or were simply abandoned. 

Now in just 9 months of taking the reins in 2023, Neighborhood Services says that they handled over 3,000 complaints for abandoned vehicles within the city, but only had to tow 40 of them, saving a significant amount of money in tow fees. 

"Putting in the effort upfront to get the vehicle owner to solve the problem is extremely cost-effective for the city," said Mitch Hammes, the Manager of Neighborhood Services. 


Bill Passage Would Bring Blue Lights to Michigan 

Published: Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A new bill is underway that would allow Michigan tow companies to use blue lights when working an emergency scene. 

The bill was spurred by the death of 25 year old Keagan Spencer, who was struck and killed in Caledonia, Michigan while rescuing a stray dog. Spencer was parked on the median of the highway when a driver veered out of her lane and hit Spencer head on. House Bill 5418, otherwise known as “Keegan’s Law,” if passed, would allow the use of blue lights on tow trucks 

Keegan’s father, Matt Spencer, a 2nd generation tower out of Hastings, Michigan can be credited for spearheading the initiative while working hard to bring awareness to the slowdown move over laws. 

He said, "Give us the same courtesy as the police, because we are working on the side of the road just as much as they do,” 

As of right now, police are the only emergency vehicles in the state of Michigan to run red and blue lights. Rep. Gina Johnsen (R), who represents Michigan's 78th District in the state house, introduced House Bill 5418.  

"It raises awareness. You add another contrasting color, and it raises the level of seriousness (that) something's going on," said Rep. Johnsen. 

"It's not just blue and red. Those are the lights that people seem to know, they associate that with law enforcement," said Matt. 

Other states have passed similar laws that allow blue lights on wreckers, including New York, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Kansas and Missouri 

"They want more help," said Rep. Johnsen. "You'd love to have a police officer at the side of the road when a tow truck is helping a disabled vehicle or removing a crash scene, but we can't. We're already short police officers so we can't have that." 

"The towers that I'm talking to, these are the guys who are literally getting into the tow truck every day and going out and helping the public," said Matt. "They're tired of raving about their brothers and sisters that are fallen on the side of the road." 

This bill is not a requirement, but an option for wreckers.  

Matt is planning on sharing his family's story next week in front of lawmakers in Washington D.C. Later, he'll share his story once again in front of Michigan lawmakers in March. 

You can read the bill in its entirety here. 


Pennsylvania Bridges Stressed and Underfunded 

Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Reportedly, repairs on Pennsylvania bridges are woefully inadequate and oversight negligent. A report indicated one such instance led to the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge in 2022 due to corrosion, injuring several commuters. 

In addition to not addressing deterioration, not enforcing load limits further exacerbated the issue.  

As the bridge gradually deteriorated, officials should have lowered its load rating, board members said. In 2014, the city posted a maximum load of 26 tons, but by the time the bridge caved in, the proper load rating would have been three tons, meaning it wasn’t safe to carry much traffic at all. 

As part of its comprehensive investigation — which is expected to be released fully next month — the NTSB found the city’s bridge inspection program was “ineffective,” calling it “poor quality,” and far outside the bounds of federal and industry standards. 

Oversight of the city’s inspection regime by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration was also “insufficient,” said Jennifer Homendy, chair of the NTSB. 

To prevent future tragedies, the NTSB recommended several changes at all levels of government: The city needs to keep more detailed records of repairs, and work with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to develop a routine maintenance program; PennDOT should publish yearly data on bridge deficiencies and repair recommendations; and the Federal Highway Administration should conduct a targeted review of safety issues. 

Out of all 50 states, Pennsylvania has the sixth most bridges rated in poor condition — about 3,000 — state data shows. 

“The Fern Hollow catastrophe was a serious wake-up call for both the city of Pittsburgh and PennDOT,” Homendy said. “We cannot take infrastructure for granted. Lives depend on it.” 


New Coalition Defends Towing Industry

Published: Sunday, February 25, 2024

On October 20, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it was exploring a new proposed rule on “Unfair or Deceptive Fees” to crack down on supposed junk fees proliferating through the economy. The Commission then voted 3 to 1 in favor of approving publication of the advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM), which received over 12,000 comments. 

On November 9, 2023, the FTC published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled “Rule on Unfair or Deceptive Fees.” This would prohibit unfair or deceptive practices relating to fees for goods or services, specifically misrepresenting the total costs of goods and services by omitting mandatory fees from advertised prices and misrepresenting the nature and purpose of fees.

With the announcement of the new rule, the FTC opened a 60-day public comment period that closed on January 8, 2024, but was extended an additional 30-days to February 7, 2024. On the last day before the extended comment period closed, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the Department of Transportation (DOT), submitted comments in support of the proposed rule, stating in part:

“The proposed regulation may significantly benefit FMCSA’s regulated community, specifically as it relates to the predatory towing practices that have a substantial financial impact on CMV owner operators.” Further, the comments stated that, “FMCSA believes that these predatory towing fee practices fall within the purview of FTC’s proposed regulation on unfair or deceptive fees, and offers the following support and suggestions for consideration.” These comments also go on to suggest additional regulations to target what they perceive to be predatory towing practices.

As of midnight on February 7, 2024, the comment period closed, and no more comments could be submitted. To this day, no one from the towing and recovery industry submitted comments, participated in the rulemaking process, or informed our vast community about the potential devastating impact these rules will have on our businesses and livelihood.

These circumstances now have ended.


Statement released by OSCHA was:

We created the National Open Commerce and Safer Highways Coalition (NOCSHC) to fight this unnecessary and likely devastating government action, participate in the process, defend and inform the industry, and prepare for any and all action necessary to respond. The NOCSHC is a coalition of committed towing and recovery companies, allied businesses and emergency-responder communities employed and dedicated to keeping our roads open and safe. We are taking immediate action to:

-- Retain the highest-caliber legal representation to engage the FTC rulemaking process where it stands today, assess the risk and liability the rule poses to the industry, and prepare to take any and all legal actions to protect and defend our interests at the Federal level.
-- Retain federal lobbying representation to engage Members of Congress regarding their oversight of the regulatory process, engage the FTC, FMCSA, and DOT, and tirelessly advocate for the coalition to ensure our voice is heard.
-- Inform the industry. Everyone deserves to know the impact and liability your business faces and what is being done to address the proposed rule. The NOCSHC will be your source of information and your voice in Washington, DC.


For far too long there has been silence and inaction from the towing and recovery industry. The NOCSHC will speak with a united voice and an unwavering commitment to fight this erroneous and unnecessary regulatory action so that this industry will never be silent. We will be prepared to fight back. We are facing a grave and immediate threat from powerful and well-funded opposition working in concert with our industry’s same government regulators. 

We can not be silent and we must take action now! 

We need your help. This battle requires an “all hands on deck” approach.  The consequences of this federal action are real and the process is well underway. We need every towing and recovery company, every state association, every allied business, and our emergency responder partners to join this crucial effort today! 

Please email to get involved today!!

Source: National Open and Safer Highways Coalition - NOCSH

Tow Bill Would Allow Seizure of License Plates

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2024

Legislation has passed through committee in Oklahoma that would allow towing companies to take a license plate off a crashed car and keep it until either insurance or the owner pay for the tow. 

Senate Bill 1743 also prevents the registered owner of the car from getting a new tag until the fine was paid. 

Senator Roland Pederson, (R ) Burlington, said he has been working on the bill for a few years. He said it has support from Service Oklahoma, an organization that facilitates registering a vehicle. 

“They {wrecker companies} were just not getting paid for their services,” said Pederson. “Some of them were even going out of business because they weren’t getting paid like they should.” 

Many of the wrecked cars hold little value for the towing companies except as scrap metal so storing them has become a losing proposition.  

One Senator, who supported the bill’s passage, expressed some reservations. 
“I am concerned when we have an additional way for a penalty for individuals that can’t afford to pay something for them, for their future to be penalized,” said Keven Matthews, (D) Tulsa. 

Another concern was that registered vehicle owners would bear responsibility for wrecked cars driven by others, like a son or daughter.  

Jim Emo, owner of Quality Towing in Norman, said eight out of the 10 cars that his company tows were registered to someone else, typically the parents of college students going to the University of Oklahoma. 

The bill will have to be passed through by the House and Senate if it were to become law. 


Man with Stolen Tow Truck Creates Mayhem 

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2024

A man who stole a tow truck in Baltimore led police on a wild chase, hitting 13 cars and injuring two officers. 

It started on I-95, at the DC Parkway, where the suspect stole a state emergency assistance tow truck. From there chaos ensued, as drivers attempted to get out of his way, some colliding head on. The suspect continued recklessly driving, even going off road and hitting electric wires.  

Police pursued him through suburban neighborhoods, to an Exxon Gas station, where he narrowly missed colliding with another vehicle. Then he hit a Maryland State Trooper’s SUV, pushing the car up the road. The chase ended 5 miles later, police capturing him with guns drawn.  

The suspect was arrested and faces several charges including reckless driving, failure to stop, assault and theft 


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February 28 - March 05, 2024

100 Feet DOWN, UP and OVER 

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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By George L. Nitti 

It was a long way down for a tractor trailer carrying natural gas to descend. 100 feet! Thank goodness the driver was spared. Thank goodness no explosion. 

The call came in early morning – 6 a.m. - on a wintry day near Schenectady, New York, home to AC Towing and Recovery. 

Their tow ops prepared themselves to rock and roll, but according to Rafael Nieves, ops manager: “We had to wait until the natural gas was cleaned up. It took about 10 hours to empty them out from the torpedos.” 

Nieves and the AC crew would thus have to come back the following day. The crew included Nieves’ wife Karen Caprara, the owner of the company.

“For a woman to be pushing a 50 ton wrecker, to me is amazing. You don’t see a lot of woman with heavies. She drove the 50 ton tri-axle" 

After the gas was cleaned up by a hazmat crew, the AC team set up their two 50 ton Century rotators and prepared the rigging for the recovery of the chassis, tractor and storage container that lay demolished at the bottom of the steep bridge.  

Nieves said, “What made the job so difficult was that we were on top of the bridge. We had to walk down the side of the bridge on a steep hill and then rig everything very carefully. We put snatch blocks on the cable to make it heavy and sent them down and then used straps and chains to strap and bring everything back up.” 

Working methodically, the crew brought one piece up at a time, beginning first with the truck. Then the trailer and chassis and finally the container. 

Perhaps like working on a film set, getting everybody on the same page was a test in teamwork, a test in patience. 

“It was a very intense recovery,” said Nieves, “particularly the difficulty of not just bringing things up but getting them over the bridge and back onto the highway to set down upon the Landoll trailers. It was a 10 to 11 hour recovery.” 

From there it was transport back to their storage facility until the tractor’s insurance company picked up the pieces. 

Train Wreckage and Mangled Titanium  

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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By George L. Nitti 

It’s a scary scenario when a heavily loaded semi-tractor trailer bottoms out on railroad tracks and gets stuck. It’s even scarier when a train is fast approaching, and the only option is to jump ship. 

Such was the case in February, in Haverstraw, New York, when a tractor trailer loaded with hundreds of titanium rods was hit head on, the tractor smashed, on one side, and the trailer, with the load of titanium rods mangled, bent and strewn in all directions, on the other. 

Fortunately, the driver had gotten out and the train was  spared any casualties. But the recovery made for a super long day for Big Tows Incorporated of Chestnut Ridge, New York. 

Tow operator Dylan Fijor, son of own Ricardo Fijor, informed: “A tractor trailer was in an area he was not supposed to be in and bottomed out on the train tracks. It hasn’t been the first time it’s happened there.” 

Big Tows responded with a small arsenal of equipment, including a couple of heavy duties, several low boys, an excavator, bobcat, and other specialty equipment. 

With their 50-ton Century Rotator on a 2020 389 Peterbuilt, Fijor dragged the tractor out, while Louis Quintana, with the Vulcan Century 50 ton on a 21’ Peterbuilt, winched out the trailer. Then, to clear the mangled titanium from around the tracks, they put an endless loop onto the rods so that “we could get the trains running again,” said Fijor. 

The bigger part of the recovery, however, and the most time consuming, was spent picking up and cutting the bent titanium rods that were 30 to 35 feet long.  

Fijor said, “We had to do a lot of cutting, using specialized blades. Once the titanium was bent, you could not load them on the trailer without them being oversized. They had to be cut. Every single one.” 

This clean-up required an excavator, bobcat and three roll-off containers in which the titanium was loaded, along with a landoll trailer to remove what was left of the trailer, and another low boy to haul the rods that were not destroyed. 

All in all, a job that started around 9 a.m. in the morning did not finish until 1:30 a.m.  

Show Yours @ TIW

Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor George L. Nitti at; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman Magazine!

Cut Down Crane Stands Tall Again 

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2024

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By George L. Nitti 

Cutting down the tops of tall, large sized trees can be perilous work, particularly if a crane flips from the weight of its extended boom due to its operator’s failure to employ outriggers that serve to provide stability. 

With no job too big, Pepe’s Towing and Recovery of Southern California was called to scene in early January to upright a 122 foot toppled crane used for tree cutting. They brought in their 50 and 75 ton Century rotators, better known as Big Flipper and Hulk, both which sit on Peterbuilt 389’s. The operation was led by lead towman Joshua Acosta. 

“It was a long day,” said Acosta. “We had a horrible working space and it started to rain on the private, residential road where the casualty lay.” 

With no way to access the crane but up through a small road, first they encountered the remnants of gargantuan sized cut logs weighing 3000 pounds or so, which needed to be removed to deal with the casualty. 

“Then we had to get close to the crane to upright it,” recounted Acosta, “which became an issue for fear of it hitting our trucks. The outriggers on the crane didn’t work, they were shot. The recovery was horribly complicated in every sense of the word.” 

The boom of the crane was fully extended sideways, laying flush to the ground, its end sitting atop a vehicle that got slammed and destroyed. Fortunately no one got hurt. 

“When you lift something heavy like a tanker, the weight is always concentrated. It’s like picking up a 10-pound dumbbell. If you lean over and pick it up, it’s no problem, but if you attach a 20 pound rod to a 10 pound dumbell, it’s much harder to lift. That’s what we were dealing with," Acosta informed. “The job would have been much easier to complete if only the boom had retracted, but that was a no go, most likely caused by an electrical short."

To gain more leverage, Pepe’s hooked up to holes in the middle of the crane, pulling up on it with their rotator and then rerigging half way up to gain further leverage and thus pulling the crane back over. 

Acosta said, “Once we got it up, the customer was adamant that the engine would start up and the boom would retract, but that was not the case. We had to crib the outrigger forcefully and extend it out until they could fix it."

After waiting a couple of days for a crane specialist to get to work again, Pepe’s returned to the scene, this time easily towing it back to their home base. 

February 28 - March 05, 2024

Survival: The Game of “PeekaBoo”

Published: Friday, February 23, 2024

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By Randall C. Resch                         

On November 12, 2023, a “HELP” motorist assist operator in Iowa arrived at a previous crash scene positioning his arrow board service truck behind a police cruiser. The arrow board’s left directional lights and its emergency lights activated. As the operator exited the safety of the truck’s cab, an intoxicated semi-truck driver drifted over the white-line, killing the operator.    

Working near traffic is perhaps one of the most dangerous activities conducted by tow operators. This is confirmed by incident describing more than one dozen operator fatalities killed exiting or re-entering the truck’s cab.

As kids, you likely played “Hide and Seek,” an age-worn game played by covering one’s face, then chasing others shouting “Peekaboo.” In the tow and recovery industry, PeekaBoo is no game, yet a valid survival mentality intended to save the lives of on-highway workers, tow operators and first responders.

Recently, I watched a veteran tow owner/operator loading my granddaughter’s disabled vehicle onto his carrier. Loading was no problem other than he worked the controls from the traffic side of the truck. But, as it was time to depart, he walked (without concern) down the truck’s rail, back to traffic, completely exposed, and clueless to dangerous approaching vehicles.

Simple is Deadly

My safety mindset has forever promoted “There are no routine scenarios” in law enforcement and towing. While entering and exiting any vehicle is a basic task, towers are reminded there’s so much more “danger potential” regarding hazardous approaching traffic. The act of standing, working and walking “situates” towers directly in harm’s way every moment they go boots to the ground.

Regardless as to the type of call towers work, being struck as a “pedestrian worker” is always danger close on high-speed highways and inner-city streets. The act of getting out of the tow truck’s cab on-arrival, or climbing back into the cab to depart is part of that simple routine. However, simplicity leads to complacency and complacency leads to deadly results. In my mind, that’s easy math!

In simple terms, even the acts of exiting or returning to the tow truck’s cab and not using that “bulk” of tow truck steel for protection is risky business. When towers get struck exiting or returning to their trucks at-scene, it’s my opinion that an early demise could be preventable when towers are intently aware that initiating PeekaBoo is intended to save their lives.

Follow TIMs Lead

“Exiting” the tow truck’s cab demands complete focus. From the National Traffic Incident Management (TIM), Train the Trainer Guide, a specific section entitled “Exiting Emergency Vehicles” suggests the following techniques:

-- Unbuckle seatbelt and don high-visibility garment

-- Check mirror for approaching traffic

-- Look back, check for traffic

-- Open door slightly

-- Open door only as much as needed and exit

-- Close door and proceed to a safe area

-- I’ll add, be sure to maintain three-points of contact to prevent falling.

“Re-Entering” the truck’s cab is equally dangerous. Although re-entering isn’t mentioned in TIMs, as the opening photo depicts, consider the following techniques:

-- Complete (if possible) tie down and safety straps. If securing is too dangerous on the traffic side, secure enough as safe and move to wider location to avoid being struck on the traffic side. For safety’s sake, complete total securement elsewhere.

-- From the non-traffic side, move forward to the front of the truck, remaining behind the safety of the truck’s mass

-- Cautiously move to the truck’s front, traffic side corner closest to the slow lane. Peer rearward watching for approaching traffic

-- When a break in traffic opens, move swiftly, yet carefully while climbing into the driver’s seat

-- In all circumstances, never turn your back to traffic

I know this topic might seem laughable or too unimportant to repeat. But, seeing towers repeat deadly actions makes this narrative a timely reminder.

Remember, exiting and re-entering the truck’s cab is a process that occurs hundreds, if not a thousand times a year. Put that into a “survival context” to suggest; each time this “routine practice” is conducted, there’s potential you could be struck by an approaching vehicle. It’s up to you to ensure your safety.     

Operations Editor  Randall C. Resch is a retired California police officer and veteran tow business owner. As consultant and trainer, he authored and teaches a tow truck operator safety course approved by the California Highway Patrol. For 52-years, he has been involved in the towing and recovery industry. In 26-years, he has contributed more than 700-safety focused articles for American Towman Magazine and He was inducted to the International Towing and Recovery Industry Hall of Fame, was the 3rd recipient of the industry's "Dave Jones Leadership Award," and is a member of American Towman’s Safety Committee. Email Randy at  

Don’t Roll Over and Play Dead Yet

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2024

By Brian J. Riker

Times are beginning to look a little rough for the average tower. With labor and equipment still at or near record high costs, insurance premiums rising even without any claims and call aggregators aggressively growing their market share, thereby reducing available direct customers and cash calls, the last thing towers need is to face an ill-informed attack by the federal government on our rates and services provided.

Unless you have been living under a rock you have likely heard about several strategic attacks on the towing industry over the last several years. While this is nothing new, the business model has been under attack for as long as I can recall, the methods being deployed are new.

In recent history, thanks to the hard work of the state and national towing associations and active towers, like this audience, our industry has fought off attempts to raise the minimum insurance liability that motor carriers, and towers by default, would be required to carry, attempts to regulate our rates and services beyond acceptable consumer protections found in non-consensual towing rules and even attacks on how we employ our drivers.

Despite the successes found in fighting off the INSURANCE Act, the Van Hollen Amendment, speed limiters and a number of other pieces of bad legislation, our opponents are not giving up. You might even say that they are just warming up for the fight, and what a fight it will be. Make no mistake, our opponents are well organized, highly funded and very connected locally and in Washington, DC.

In the most recent attack, the US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is calling for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to include the towing industry in its recently proposed rule making proposal, which would open the door to impose regulations across the board on the towing industry’s rates and business practices, including consensual towing.

His letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan points to a flawed study published late in 2023 by the American Transportation Research Institute that claims overcharging and fraudulent business practices are rampant throughout the towing industry but only relied on less than 500 invoices, hand selected by 390 respondents, mostly ATA members, to justify their conclusions. This is a very disappointing report from ATRI, as they usually publish fair and unbiased research despite being part of the American Trucking Associations.

Supporting the Biden Administration’s war on “junk fees”, which began to combat fees for services like checking your bank balance, bringing carry-on baggage or seat selection fees on airlines, the US Department of Transportation is asking the FTC to declare charging separate and distinct fees for support and ancillary items like specialty tools, safety gear, and consumable items unlawful.

Should this idea of the Federal Trade Commission intervening in the towing industry come to fruition it would pave the way for a patchwork of state level laws governing the towing and transportation of motor vehicles in a similar manner that household goods movers are licensed and regulated.

In the words of TV pitchman Billy Mays “but wait there’s more”. Following the defeat of the Van Hollen amendment, which sought to return to the states the right to regulate rates and services of even consensual towing services, meaning the state could set fees even for private party contracts between consenting parties, several states have taken it upon themselves to attempt to do the same thing by pushing for the development of towing oversight boards or similar entities.

HB179 in Florida would require counties and state troopers to establish a cost-plus recovery structure that towing operators may charge for cleanup and disposal of hazardous and nonhazardous materials incidental to a nonconsensual tow. Cities also would be permitted to enact such rates. Meanwhile, in OOIDA’s home state of Missouri, HB2214, which has had similar language defeated previously, would require the establishment of towing oversight rules including a complaint process and compel towers to release property and vehicles with a payment of as little as 30% of the towing invoice.

While we have a few things in our favor, most notably a very divided Congress that has been having difficulty agreeing on anything, it is an election year and a feel good consumer protection achievement would look good for the campaign.

All hope is not lost Our state and national associations are fighting the good fight on behalf of all towers, members or not, although there is strength in numbers and if there ever were a time your association needed help it is right now! As part of the legislative teams for both the Pennsylvania Towing Association and The Towing and Recovery Association of America, and a frequent consultant to several other state associations, I can assure you these attacks have not gone unnoticed, and we are fighting hard behind the scenes to find solutions, but the fight takes money and support.

It is a cold reality that lawmakers only listen to lobbyists when they bring the support of local constituents to back up their request. Even if you can’t afford to contribute to your association’s PAC or lobby fund, just joining and paying your dues gives your association a boost when speaking on your behalf. Please consider helping fight off these detrimental legislative and regulatory actions by supporting your association of choice.

Securing Equipment to Prevent Theft 

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2024

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By Randall C. Resch 

An industry forum had a tower’s post in which he shared a pic of his carrier’s neat and organized bed and equipment. Forum participants berated and chided his posting. While the carrier’s deck was neat and well-appointed, the topic of equipment security came to mind. 

I agree that appearance and organization should be a priority every tower strives for. However, leaving equipment “topside and exposed” lends to competitors and thieves having easy access. If I were someone “shopping” for tow truck equipment, outfitting a wrecker or carrier would be an easy proposition. Why?  

Because towers are oftentimes lax to secure top-side equipment and accessories. In a case in which a picture is worth a thousand words, I ask, “How secure would this carrier’s equipment and accessories be if the truck were left unoccupied and parked outside?” 

Take home trucks are a luxury few companies boast. Based on the size of a company’s fleet, there might not be enough available trucks for all operators to take one home. If you’re an operator assigned a take home truck, there are responsibilities necessary to help prevent theft of tow equipment and accessories. 

Directed to tow owners reading this, I’m confident you’ll agree that your operators bear responsibility to take appropriate measures to prevent theft of company equipment. For towers working company wreckers and carriers, the same applies to you. 

Five Finger Discount 

Having resided in the Northern California mountains below Tahoe, my small fleet of three wreckers, four carriers and an off-road recovery truck, all were well equipped per requirements of the California Highway Patrol’s, Tow Truck Inspection Form 234 (b).  

All trucks were equipped to meet the rigors of mountain recovery and a rotation area that was rural and spread out. My operators were assigned “take home trucks” to help meet the CHP’s response times. In one memorable scenario, my operator parked at a rural market, only to return to his carrier discovering someone “liberated” most of the tools, accessories and equipment left lying and unsecured atop the carrier’s deck. The question I asked was, “Was the equipment locked up?” He shamefully answered, “No!”  

Company Rules Say 

Because theft is rampant in the industry, what the operator does to protect the company’s equipment is vital. Arriving on-scene to discover most of the truck’s equipment gone is an extremely disheartening feeling, not to mention the operator might not be able to complete the tow or recovery. Only a few things trump having to make that “ever dreaded” phone call telling the boss saying the truck’s equipment was stolen.  

When looking at what “risk management” owners must instill, the company’s policy and procedure manual should have a dedicated section to what protection and safety measures help ensure the truck and its equipment are cared for. While thwarting thieves in action isn’t likely, equipment should be stowed under lock and key to prevent it from being stolen.  

A company’s PPM should include mention that’s specific to securing the truck and its contents. For example, the following paragraph is part of my PPM specific to equipment and truck securing. Under, “Tow Trucks, Equipment & Take-Home Vehicles”, the PPM reads:  

“Every employee assigned a Company owned vehicle(s) shall take necessary steps to ensure the tow truck, flatbed carrier, or other Company vehicle and its included equipment and accessories, is NOT stolen as a result of it being unoccupied or running. While away from the vehicle, keys will be removed from the vehicle’s igniton, even for a short time. 

Operators shall not leave unoccupied tow trucks or carriers running to go into a store, or double parked for activities other than load, off-load, and recovery. Note: For operators assigned take home trucks, and regardless type of equipment used, all equipment and tow accessories shall be stowed and secured to prevent theft including items atop the carrier’s deck.”  

Under Lock and Key 

I highly recommend that tow equipment and accessories are stowed (and locked) in truck mounted boxes, within the truck’s cab, or atop carrier boxes with the deck secured. Leaving items in-the-open and unprotected only invites bad guys to shop for tow goodies. Especially true to wheel lift trucks, dollies are to be locked and secured. 

Security is only as good as it’s implemented. As for the carrier’s equipment shown in the opening photo, if it all were stolen in one fell swoop, the thief would easily gain a chain bridle, a pair of Go-Jak’s, two ratchets and straps, a pair of skates and a wireless Tow Mate.  

At today’s prices, replacing these items would easily be a thousand dollar hit. While the pictured equipment “looks picture nice”, it’s vulnerable when lying unsecured atop a carrier’s deck. Being under lock and key or stowed atop carrier boxes will help ensure equipment and accessory items won’t be riding on someone else’s truck.      

Operations Editor Randall C. Resch is a retired California police officer and veteran tow business owner. As consultant and trainer, he authored and teaches light-duty operator safety courses approved by the California Highway Patrol. For 52-years, he has been involved in the towing and recovery industry. In 26-years, he has contributed more than 700-safety focused articles for American Towman Magazine and He was inducted to the International Towing and Recovery Industry Hall of Fame, was the 3rd recipient of the industry's "Dave Jones Leadership Award," and is a member of American Towman’s Safety Committee. Email Randy at  



February 28 - March 05, 2024

Alpha Dog to the Rescue 

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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By George L. Nitti 

Ideas for graphic design sometimes come as an epiphany in the middle of the night. Hell, Paul McCartney had a dream of his mother giving him solace in a time of trouble and woke up penning the words and music to “Let It Be.” 

Ted Baldwin, owner of Alpha Towing, had an epiphany one night too. A thought came into his head: “We Do it with Straps and Chains,” and that idea was eventually realized as a catchy slogan on his tow trucks. 

His most recent purchase from Atlanta Wrecker Sales was a black 2024 MV International 22 ft. JerrDan rollback which prominently highlights the slogan that turns heads. 

“We even get requests for tee-shirts,” said Baldwin. 

Alpha Towing LLC, located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was established in 2016. 

“I didn’t know anything about the towing business,” said Baldwin. 

Another epiphany arose when he decided to use his pitbull Bubba as the company mascot.  

“I rescued Bubba,” he said. “They are an alpha dog.” 

Bubba ended up on Baldwin’s doorstep and after going unclaimed for several days, moved in with Baldwin. 

“Bubba used to love to ride in the truck, but now he is older and his hips are not as good. He doesn’t like the airbrakes on the trucks,” said Baldwin. “But he does still like to come into the office, where he hangs out all day. He still goes out on the parades. Everybody knows Bubba. Pitbulls have that stigma but he’s not mean at all.” 

The Alpha name carries a lot of weight when it comes to being called from a rotation, indicated Baldwin. 

“We are always on the top of the list,” he said. “We are on nine different police rotations, and we are the primary service provider for AAA in Spartanburg County.” 

The new unit, one of nine flatbeds in the Alpha fleet, is decked out with extra storage boxes and plenty of lights. 

“If we need something, Atlanta Wrecker Sales bend over backwards to make it happen.  As far as my rollbacks go, they are my go-to.” 

Unique Design for Exotic Protection

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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By George L. Nitti

Success in any industry sometimes comes down to finding one’s niche.

Shawn Sowden, owner of 64 Motor Cars of Middlesex, NJ, which exclusively focuses in on the transport of specialty/exotic cars, is a case in point. While working as a manager for a luxury car transport business, he made contacts with car dealerships that directly solicited his help to move cars for them.

One day, he was offered an opportunity to transport a specialty/exotic car to Colorado, using his own pickup truck and trailer. He said, “When I talked to my father and asked him what to do, my father responded, ‘Son, do the job. I’ll put you under my insurance and you’ll transport the car.’”

Sowden revealed that his trip to Colorado led to blowing every single tire on the trailer and spending every dollar that he made on repairs to his truck. Upon his return, a big question mark loomed about his future, but the phone calls from dealers requesting his service continued to trickle in. “At first,” he said, “I thought it would become a side business.”

10 years later, Sowden now finds himself transporting between 3000 and 3500 specialty cars a year, having purchased his fourteenth piece of equipment that includes 5 rollbacks, one of which is a 2020 International NV with a Century LoadRight.

The company name, 64 Motor Cars, which is written elegantly on the side of their units just under a sketched image of a race car, sprang from the death of a good friend. Sowden said that when he started the business, he was grappling with a name and didn’t want to use clichés like “luxury” or “white glove” to define his business. Instead, he thought of his friend and co-worker who had died in a car accident at 21. Sowden said, “He drove a race car numbered 64.” In his memory, he took the number as the name for the company.

Graphically, Sowden intended to use a ripped American flag on his units. “But the problem I ran into was that anytime you took the American flag, and you tore it up to make it look like it was ripped, it just never looked right,” he said.

So the wrapped design became a minimal rendition of the American flag, with no stars and red stripes that were turned into tears, on a white background.

Although Sowden entertained the idea of doing custom paint, he discovered after the first (and last) painted unit that paint chips and was more difficult to maintain. He said, “Vinyl is easy. If I sell the truck, I just peel it off. It’s good to go.”

What also sets his units apart are the Conestoga covers made by Quick Draw, which ensure that the specialty vehicles that the company transports are protected from nature’s harsher elements.

He said, “We were the first independent company outside of a dealership to have an enclosed rollback. It’s airtight and keeps the water out.”

With a focus on exclusivity, and a niche with demand, catering to such a business clientele requires having the tools and equipment to execute the job to perfection.

Afterall, someone has to transport that 22 million dollar McLaren F1! Why not 64 Motor Cars?

Climbing Higher, Powered by Family

Published: Thursday, February 01, 2024

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By George L. Nitti

A good logo and slogan are critical parts of the mix of elements that comprise company graphics and promote customer interest and loyalty. In Southern Florida, where Alpine Towing resides with seven locations, one might wonder why a company would embrace a name suggesting the mountains, when they tow mainly on the Florida plain. 

However, Larry J. Saravia, owner of Alpine Towing Inc, whose fleet has exceeded 60 trucks, attributes his mountain logo to company success, a symbol for what he saw himself becoming as a tow boss.  

Saravia recounts first starting out in the business, stating, “When we started out, those were the years of the yellow pages. We wanted our company to be found under the letter A. I struggled coming up with something and just as I was about to quit, Alpine popped into my head. The designer told me ‘Alpine means one of the tallest mountains.’ I said ‘That’s great man. Cause that’s what I want to be. Big!” 

Over the years, staying consistent with that image, Alpine has continued to showcase its logo on their sharp looking tow trucks. 

“When people see the mountains, they know it’s Alpine,” said Saravia. 

The huge fleet included a recent line of new 2023 Hino 21 foot with Jerr Dan rollbacks that were wrapped by Razor Wrap Designs of Fredericksburg, Virginia, drawing on the skills of artist Mark Long, who has done numerous designs for the towing industry. 

Saravia said, “I take my trucks from Miami to Virginia to get them wrapped. They do a phenomenal job from the material they use, to the way they wrap and the extra things they do without us asking. They do things and don’t tell you this is going to be extra. They just do it.” 

Also found on the trucks are green swirling stripes against a black background. The combined imagery causes people to turn their heads, stare at the truck and take pictures of it, according to Saravia.  

Also important for Saravia is that his tow operators have trucks they are proud to drive. 

“I know what a driver needs and what a driver wants and I know how a driver feels.” 

At the same time, his drivers are expected to keep their units clean and carry a shirt inside the truck to wipe down the insides. 

Also critical to this company’s fortune is their catchy slogan - “Powered by Family.” 

Saravia said, “I followed in my grandfather’s footsteps, who had a lot of businesses. He had a lot of integrity and taught me to be transparent with customers and to give 100%, no matter the size. I’m a second generation tower and my son will be 3rd generation. If you are our customer, we treat you like family.  

February 28 - March 05, 2024

TowMate Unveils Groundbreaking Safety Lighting

Published: Thursday, February 15, 2024

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TowMate, a U.S. manufacturer of automotive lighting located in Rogers, Arkansas, launched two safety lighting products incorporating the patented HINVII technology: the SS470UVA and the TM-LS-UVA.

According to a TowMate press release: “These products are a game-changer in enhancing the visibility and safety of roadside workers without compromising their field of vision.”

The SS470UVA UV light head is designed to dramatically increase the visibility of roadside workers' vests. This product employs the patented HINVII technology, emitting a non-visible light that causes workers' vests to glow intensely, ensuring they are unmistakably visible to passing motorists. While the vests appear brilliantly lit to drivers, the light itself is non-distracting and non-visible to the workers, allowing them to focus on their tasks without any impairment to their field of vision. The light head also features amber LED’s that can be set to alternate with the HINVII LED’s for greater visibility in varying conditions.

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Complementing the SS470UVA, the TM-LS-UVA is a rechargeable, traffic-cone mounted system. It not only features the innovative SS470UVA light head but also is reachargeable and portable, ensuring the benefits of worker visibility can be realized where they are needed and not just limited to around the truck. The HINVII light capability ensures maximum visibility in various lighting conditions and traffic scenarios, making it an indispensable tool for roadside safety.

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These products come with a lifetime warranty on electronics and LEDs.For more information about the SS470UVA and TM-LS-UVA, please visit or contact your local dealer.

Lite It Wireless Battery and Charger

Published: Thursday, February 15, 2024

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External 20-volt Battery and Charger for your wireless light bar.

This battery is mounted externally and there is no longer the need to change the 2 batteries from inside the case.  You simply take the discharged battery off the battery plate and replace it with a fresh battery.  Designed to accept both M18 and DeWalt style batteries.  These new wireless lightbars have the same great warranty and customer service included with every purchase.  

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You may purchase the external battery light bars without the battery and charger and use your own.

Now available in 36”, 48”, 60” wireless LED light bar.  Add flashers or strobes. 7-pin transmitter, external 20-volt battery and charger included.

For more info: 800-490-3158     WWW.CUSTERPRODUCTS.COM

Ice Claw

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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This Ice Claw keeps you safe in icy conditions. Designed to fit 3-1/2" x 3-1/2" crossbars which are commonly found on car carriers and light-duty tow trucks. 


  • Increase Safety: Helps prevent slipping on ice 
  • The 3" fits 3" x 3" crossbar 
  • The 3.5" fits 3-1/2" x 3-1/2" crossbar 
  • The crossbar is commonly found on car carriers and light-duty tow trucks 
For more information on the Ice Claw, visit
February 28 - March 05, 2024
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February 28 - March 05, 2024
The scene of the incident where a repo driver was punched and then later shot after pursuing the suspect.

Florida Repo Driver Shot During Repossession 

Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Last Thursday, a repo driver in Port St. Lucie was allegedly shot six times after trying to repossess a vehicle. 

The agent, 28-year-old Tristan Hastings, attempted to repossess a vehicle where he encountered 59-year-old Omar Sueque. 

As can be seen on video, Sueque placed himself between his car and the tow truck yelling, “Hey, get out, this is private property,” and “I have cameras here.” Undaunted, Hastings can be seen ignoring the borrower and edging his truck further back toward the car. 

Infuriated, Sueque can be seen charging up to the truck and punching Hastings through the open truck window. Equally outraged, Hastings leapt from his truck and chased after Sueque. 

Repossessions Inc. owner Bill Kelly watched the video and said that he was surprised that the tow truck driver followed Sueque. 

“What did he get out of the car for and chase the guy? He should have just continued with what he was doing and left,” Kelly told them. “I’ve had people, a pregnant woman, lay down between the car and the tow truck. Obviously, you get out of Dodge, you don’t want to be involved in a situation like that.” 

Tre Smith of Off the Chain Towing and Recovery said that he cut his workday short Thursday after he heard about the shooting. 

“It’s a little too close to home,” Smith said. “I’m on my way to do the same thing, so can I make it back home?” 

” My heart goes out to him, and his family and we offer our condolences,” Smith said.

Decatur, Alabama Considering Banning Night Time Repos

Published: Tuesday, December 19, 2023 After two men were killed involving repossessions in Alabama, city leaders in Decatur are considering banning repossessions at night.

The first deadly incident occurred in September involving Stephen Perkins, who was shot and killed by police in Decatur after his car was subject to repossession. Three officers have been fired as a result of that deadly confrontation that took place in the presence of the repo driver.

Last Wednesday, tow owner Jason Click was shot and killed in Huntsville, Alabama during a night time repossession.

Both incidents are galvanizing change.

Billy Green, executive director of the Alabama Towing and Recovery Association, indicated that their organization may need to turn to lobbyists to advocate changes that will make repossessions safer.
He said, "We may need to look at the laws on the books and what protections there are for the repossessor."

State Senator Arthur Orr has been following Decatur's situation closely saying he's committed to finding a solution to prevent further tragedies.

"I think it's important that we do look at how we are doing the repossessions and if another state or municipality has a better or safer option out there that they have put in the code to improve the safety and de-escalate the potential for violence, that's something we need to look at."


Police Officers Fired Over Repo Incident in Alabama 

Published: Monday, December 11, 2023

Three Police officers were fired by the mayor of the city of Dectur after they were responding to a repossession, resulting in the shooting death of the suspect. 

Stephen Perkins, 39, was fatally shot on September 29 after officials said he “brandished a handgun” with a light “towards an officer with the Decatur Police Department,” according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. 

Decatur police were initially called to Perkins’ home after he allegedly pulled a handgun on a tow truck driver as he was attempting to repossess a vehicle at the 39-year-old’s home. 

Officers arrived at the scene with the tow truck driver, which is when Perkins “exited the residence armed with a handgun and began to threaten the tow truck driver,” according to police. 

The officers claimed that they ordered the suspect to drop his weapon. But according to the police chief no such order was given.  

“We now know the officer identified themselves as ‘police’ and ordered Mr. Perkins to ‘get on the ground’ prior to the officer firing rather than ordering him to drop the weapon at that time as we initially reported the morning of the shooting,” said the police chief. “That means that we also erred in stating Mr. Perkins ‘refused’ to drop his firearm prior to the shooting. I apologize for the inaccurate description of the encounter in our initial statement.”  

The family of Perkins said that he did not owe money on the vehicle, having financial receipts as proof. 


Repo Driver Weighs in on Decatur Shooting 

Published: Monday, October 16, 2023

As details of the Decatur, Alabama police shooting of Steve Perkins continue to unfold, a repo driver weighed in on common practices for car repossessions in the state of Alabama. 

Steve Andrews, who repossessed cars for more than a decade, said anyone who works in the industry should leave if somebody tries to stop a car repossession on their property. According to the law, if police show up during a repossession then that repo is over. 

Andrews said, “Legally in Alabama, if somebody comes out…and it may be nationwide but if somebody comes out and objects to the repossession…technically they can go back into the house and you have to leave without that vehicle.” 

In terms of the deadly Decatur police shooting of Steve Perkins, Andrews says that it puzzles him as to why the tow truck driver fled the scene when Perkins allegedly threatened him with a handgun but then returned with Decatur police. 

Andrews said, “It’s a tragic situation, I don’t know anything about the shooting part, I don’t know a thing in the world about the police and the shooting part. But to me the police should have never been called. If the repo man called, he should have never done that. I don’t know what he was thinking he was gone do. Evidently, he doesn't know the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act that tells you if the police show up, the repo is over. Either he doesn't know or he doesn't care.” 


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