Digital Edition
The Week's Features
City Council deadlocked in giving city towers a raise.
Hershey's chocolate tanker is a casualty of tragic pile-up.
Beware the dangers of slowing down on highway shoulders.
Mix of graphics speaks with country and modern flavors.
A repo of a loaner car ends with owner of dealership getting shot.
Events
Fprt Worth, TX.
June 16-18, 2022
Las Vegas, NV.
Sept. 21-23, 2022
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 17-19, 2022
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing May 18 - May 24, 2022

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For more information, https://speakeasycommunication.solutions/how-to/actio-pro/



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Fatalities Rise on U.S. Roads 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 2021 saw more fatalities on U.S. roads as nearly 43,000 people were killed, the highest number in 16 years and a 10.5% jump over 2020 stats. 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said America faces a crisis on its roads. The safety administration urged state and local governments, drivers and safety advocates to join to reverse the rising death trend. 

Preliminary figures released Tuesday by the agency show that 42,915 people died in traffic crashes last year, up from 38,824 in 2020. Final figures will be released in the fall. 

Americans drove about 325 billion miles last year, 11.2% higher than in 2020, which contributed to the increase. 

Traffic deaths began to spike in 2019. NHTSA has blamed reckless driving behavior for increases during the pandemic, citing behavioral research showing that speeding and traveling without a seat belt have been higher. Before 2019, the number of fatalities had fallen for three straight years. 

https://swvatoday.com/news/



Scene of a fatal car crash in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Liquid Chocolate Tanker Recovery

tanker1 ca89e

By George L. Nitti

On March 28, one of the casualties of a wicked snow squall that descended upon Schulylkill County, Pennsylvania, which caused a massive pile-up on Interstate 81, 50 miles north of Harrisburg,  was a tanker filled with chocolate syrup enroute to Hershey Park.

Mark Hammer, owner/president and operator of their 65-ton NRC rotator, along with Jeremy Richards, the operator of their Century 75-ton rotator, were both instrumental in removing the tanker, one of the last recoveries made amidst many entangled and mangled vehicles numbering more than 80. 

At the recovery scene, many contaminants were released on the roadside and vehicles were burned up from fire. According to Hammer, those were a couple of the many challenges they faced during the clean-up.

Hammer added “The tanker recovery was challenging because it was full of liquid chocolate and because the heat from the fire was so significant, the tanker/product was left at a dangerously high temperature.”

The crew of Hammer’s decided it best to let the tanker sit and cool down while they worked on recoveries around it.

When it came time to remove the tanker with the 65 and 75 ton rotators, Hammer said they first attempted to sit it on a bus hauler for transport.

“However, it was determined that this was not the safest method,” said Hammer.  “Therefore crews placed a dolly underneath the front of the tanker and chained and secured everything for transport.”

Finally all axles were chained and the tanker was towed from the rear. 

Credit goes to all of the operators at Hammer’s including both Hammer and Richards, along with tow operators Dwayne Kimmel, Dale Reightler, Shawn Houtz, Daniel Shuman, Brian Huntzinger, and Brian Staller.

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

What's the Best Way to Tow a Spaceship? The Answer may Surprise you!
By Don Lomax
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May 18 - May 24, 2022
Parker Swanson, one of the towers struck, suffered a concussion and dislocated ankle.

Man Arrested for Hit and Run of Two Towers 

Marlon Fleming, the 39-year old man who is suspected of hitting two tow truck operators on May 16, was arrested by the Minnesota State Patrol. His father Kevin Fleming called state patrol to report that his son was driving the vehicle, a black Lincoln MKZ.

Two towers, part of a three-member team, were working to remove a rollover of a pickup and camper trailer from the center median of I-35 outside of Lakeville, Minnesota around 2 a.m., when they were hit. Both drivers suffered extensive but non-life threatening injuries. 

Parker Swanson of Glenn’s Towing was one of the towers hit, suffering a concussion and dislocated ankle after being thrown into a rig.  

He said, “I heard a screetch for a second but had no time to do nothing. People are just flying way to fast on that highway. It’s something you hear about and something you try not to think about, but you know it’s a possibility.” 

According to a criminal complaint Fleming is charged with two counts of criminal vehicular operation. 

https://www.fox9.com/news/
https://www.kare11.com/

American Towman Exposition Gallery
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May 18 - May 24, 2022
Downtown Wichita, where a tow contract was rejected requesting a 4% increase for tow services.

Tow Contract Rejected in Wichita 

The Wichita City Council rejected a tow contract that would grant a 4% increase to nine tow companies that provide emergency towing services for the Wichita Police Dept and remove abandoned vehicles. The contract is set to expire June 1. 

Former City Council member Greg Ferris, representing the tow companies, said the companies are facing higher costs for fuel and other items and can’t go any lower than the fees negotiated in the contract. Some council members argued price gouging or that the increase would be a financial burden for citizens.

Under the contract, the fees would continue increasing by 4% annually for four years. One council member who supported the contract, said the city should approve rate increases to help small businesses. The council member challenged the Mayor’s claim that the rate increases could result in residents losing their jobs or homes. “The average increase per incident would probably be $50 for the individual, so I’m doubtful that that would put someone in the position of losing their home,” said the councilman. “I’m also cognizant of the fact that these occurrences happen rarely. Somebody doesn’t get their car impounded by the police on a frequent basis. So the fact of jeopardizing our community members’ jobs or homes is probably limited.” 

More than 1,700 vehicles were towed under the city’s contract last year. More than 600 of those were sold at auction.

https://www.kfdi.com/

https://www.kansas.com/
 

Illinois Tackles Rogue Towing  

Governor JB Pritzker on May 13 signed a bill requiring police agencies to call only on tow companies that are on an approved tow rotation list when there is an accident.  

The bill was a response to ongoing reports of rogue towing practices, exposing how private tow companies would deliberately hold vehicles.  

Under the bill, if a random tow driver pulls up on the scene and wasn't requested by the owner of the car or officer, they will not be authorized to tow the vehicle. 

The legislation requires any towing service working within the jurisdiction of a given police agency to submit an application for inclusion on that police agency's tow rotation list. 

Tow drivers will also need to go through background checks, insurance, and licensing.  

https://www.cbsnews.com/chicago/news/

Colorado Passes Tow Bill 

In Colorado, the legislature passed a bill requiring tow companies give 24 hours written notice before removing a vehicle from a parking spot or the common area of an apartment building.  

Under the bill, towers are required to take pictures of the car and cite the reason for the tow before connecting to the vehicle. 

The tow company must also allow owners access to the car to get their belongings and return the vehicle even if the owner can’t pay charges in full. 

Tow companies say the bill goes too far. Under current law, towing companies can hold your car for 2 days before notifying you even as charges accrue. They could also sell your car in 30 days if you can’t pay in full to get it back. 

https://denver.cbslocal.com/2022/05/15

$800,000 Wrecker Stolen

A heavy duty Wrecker worth $800,000 was stolen in Miami at a Commercial Truck Dealership around 1 a.m. on Saturday, May 8.

Surveillance video captured several people pulling up to the TruckMax Inc. Commercial Truck Dealership, entering through the fence, attaching a chain to the metal gate, and using the big rig to pull the gate down. 

Investigators say the keys were not inside, but the thieves were still able to start the vehicle. 

The owner of the rare truck, used to tow and lift large vehicles, said that the truck could be started with a key to a different truck of the same make and model, since so few are manufactured every year. 

An investigation is ongoing. 

https://gaterrocks.iheart.com/

Tower Thanks Officer for Saving his Life

Tower Matt Roberts, who was shot multiple times after trying to help a stranded motorist, thanked Indiana Police Officer Jake Smith and presented him with a LifeSaver Award at a Town Council meeting in Plainfield, Indiana.

“I know each and every one of you would say, 'We’re just doing our job,' but to me and my family, you doing your job to the best of your ability is the reason I stand here tonight,” Roberts said. “I consider you as brothers and I can’t wait to get back out there with you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Stay safe. Stay strong.”  

According to Indiana State Police, when Roberts arrived to help Joseph Jackson, Jackson shot Roberts, grabbed his daughter out of the car, then jumped into the tow truck and drove off.  

When Smith responded to the scene and found Roberts shot several times, he put a tourniquet on Roberts' arm to prevent blood loss from one wound. He packed another wound in Roberts' chest with gauze and held it with his finger to prevent further blood loss from that wound.  

Roberts was in critical condition when medics took him to the hospital, but Smith was able to keep him alert and talking long enough to get details about Jackson, helping other officers find him, since he drove off.  Roberts is expected to make a full recovery. 

https://www.wthr.com/article/news

Tower Critically Wounded from Ambush 

In Chester, Pennsylvania, late May 3, tower Jamie King was shot several times and critically wounded while locking the gate at International Recovery Systems, an automotive repossession company. 

 In surveillance video, an orange vehicle pulls up, a person gets out and reportedly says a few words and then opens fire. 
 
Jamie King's wife, Nicole, says he was shot multiple times in the stomach, chest and head. She said, "There is a bullet in his brain. It caused a lot of swelling and they had to remove most of his skull on the right side of his head.” 

Hundreds of Jamie King's colleagues showed their support by driving by the hospital on Wednesday. 

"Over the last few years, this job has been increasingly more dangerous due to a lot of things. A lot of desperation out there. No car is worth this nonsense, to be so callous to attempt to take the life of a father and husband. Jamie is a great guy, a loving father and family member. Just to hurt a family over a car is so stupid," said Jeremy Cross, president of International Recovery System. 
https://6abc.com/

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May 18 - May 24, 2022

Liquid Chocolate Tanker Recovery

tanker1 ca89e

By George L. Nitti

On March 28, one of the casualties of a wicked snow squall that descended upon Schulylkill County, Pennsylvania, which caused a massive pile-up on Interstate 81, 50 miles north of Harrisburg,  was a tanker filled with chocolate syrup enroute to Hershey Park.

Mark Hammer, owner/president and operator of their 65-ton NRC rotator, along with Jeremy Richards, the operator of their Century 75-ton rotator, were both instrumental in removing the tanker, one of the last recoveries made amidst many entangled and mangled vehicles numbering more than 80. 

At the recovery scene, many contaminants were released on the roadside and vehicles were burned up from fire. According to Hammer, those were a couple of the many challenges they faced during the clean-up.

Hammer added “The tanker recovery was challenging because it was full of liquid chocolate and because the heat from the fire was so significant, the tanker/product was left at a dangerously high temperature.”

The crew of Hammer’s decided it best to let the tanker sit and cool down while they worked on recoveries around it.

When it came time to remove the tanker with the 65 and 75 ton rotators, Hammer said they first attempted to sit it on a bus hauler for transport.

“However, it was determined that this was not the safest method,” said Hammer.  “Therefore crews placed a dolly underneath the front of the tanker and chained and secured everything for transport.”

Finally all axles were chained and the tanker was towed from the rear. 

Credit goes to all of the operators at Hammer’s including both Hammer and Richards, along with tow operators Dwayne Kimmel, Dale Reightler, Shawn Houtz, Daniel Shuman, Brian Huntzinger, and Brian Staller.

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

Tragic Pile-up with Silver Lining

pileup6 51d21
By George L. Nitti

On March 28, 2022, two of the larger tow companies in Schulylkill County, Pennsylvania, were dispatched to attend to a massive pile-up on Interstate 81, 50 miles north of Harrisburg. The tragic event involved over 80 vehicles that included several deaths, numerous casualties, and lots of damaged vehicles, including passenger vehicles, box trucks, RVs, motorhomes, tractor trailers and even tankers. The cause: a blinding snow squall that suddenly enveloped the roadway.

Enter Hammer’s Towing and Trail Towing & Recovery. Both companies worked side by side, for almost two days, laboriously extracting one vehicle after another until the job was finished and the roadway cleared. 

Mike Gula, owner of Trail Towing said, “Usually we work against each other. This time we worked together. And it worked really well. I think we buried the hatchet on this one.”

Mark Hammer, owner of Hammer’s Towing said, “We started around 8 p.m. and worked around the clock. We didn’t finish until 12 a.m. the following evening.” Gula said, “It was definitely one of the worst recoveries I have ever seen.... It was two days of hell. No sleep for two days.”

The nightmarish scene exposed countless vehicles that were entangled, mangled and burned. Hammer said, “There were over 80 vehicles involved so there was a lot to work through.” Before a recovery ensued, each vehicle had to be checked for passengers and cleared by police. Gula added, “It was a slow process at first until they had everybody accounted for.”

Fire was also involved, completely burning up some of the vehicles. Hammer said, “There was fuel oil, diesel, antifreeze, and other contaminants soaking the roadway that crews had to work in.” Noting the horror of one of the burned vehicles, Jeremy Richards, 75 ton rotator operator of Hammer’s said, “There was a pick-up truck pulling a camper. It was so burned, you couldn’t even make it out from one of the pictures.”

Adding to the challenge, was the grinding, tedious nature of the work. “You know what happens when you get tired,” Gula said. “Everything becomes a hassle. Everytime you would get to the next truck, it would be a different story.  For one recovery, we needed a dolly, for another a Landoll. I said, “We might be able to tow this one, but we have to do 13 things first.’”

Both companies spared no equipment nor manpower to get the job done.  Hammer’s brought along several rotators, heavy duty wreckers, a bus hauler, a service truck and a flatbed.  Trail was also deep in equipment. Gula said, “You need a lot of other set ups to go along with the heavy duty trucks. Landolls, skidloaders, dollies, dumpsters…. It’s one thing to go up there and hope that most things roll, but the fact is that they didn’t.”

Not only were both companies aided by ample equipment, but employed over 20 tow operators to clear the scene. Gula commented, “It’s great to have all of the equipment in the world, but the main thing is help. All of my guys are awesome. I turn around at 2 a.m. in the morning, and all my guys are there.”

At the end of the day, Hammer estimated that they pulled out over 3 dozen trucks and cars. Gula estimated that for every vehicle Hammer’s pulled out, they pulled out in equal proportion.

Side by side, working together, two competitors united for the common good.

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

TARVA to the Rescue 

TARVAeblast2 3e3f6
By George L. Nitti

Low clearance light duty recoveries benefit from the use of specialized tow equipment, like EasTract’s Tow Tract, a remote-control robot that requires no touching the vehicle.  

In February, Tow Atlanta, located in Atlanta, Georgia, was called to recover a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee AWD with their Tow Tract named TARVA, at the Four Seasons Hotel in their underground parking deck with clearance of only six ft. two inches. 

Owner Lionel “Bo” Clarke said, “We use the Tow Tract for a lot of underground parking and low clearance areas. It’s a touch free way to do towing. We get a lot of use out of it in Atlanta but also all over Georgia, as it goes out multiple times per week.” 

Instead of using a wheel lift, Tow Atlanta brought out TARVA, navigating hands free to the Jeep Cherokee, located six basement levels down, where it was stuck in the middle of the driveway.  

Part of the reason they used it was because when they went to pick up the vehicle, the hood latch release was broken, and they could not open the hood. Also, the Jeep Cherokee needed to be transported up six levels, 12 incline ramps through 14 hair pin turns.  

Clarke said, “If there was a truck to fit into the 6’2” deck, it would be impossible for a wheel lift to be able to carry that Jeep on dollies and still navigate the hairpin turns.” 

Arriving on scene, TARVA safely cradled all four tires of the Cherokee. Through a series of articulations, it moved the disabled vehicle on its “back," resulting in only 24 plus or minus inches to the vehicles overall height and allowing moving the vehicle out of the very low, tight space, guided by a remote control. 

Clarke said, “I used to send out multiple trucks; now I don’t have to. It also saves on labor.” 

TARVA carried the Cherokee from six basement levels out into the parking lot, where it was loaded on a Hino flatbed and then successfully delivered to the dealership. 

“The recovery was completed in 45 minutes and we billed at triple rate due to the equipment required for the complexity,” Clarke said. “Insurance paid same day.” 

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

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Warren, MI,
$175
(pop. 134,141)

Casselberry, FL
$375
(pop. 26,449)

Elkton, MD
$640
(pop. 15,579)

Loveland, CO
$250
(pop. 70,223)

Heavy-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
May 18 - May 24, 2022

Re-Entering Highway Traffic 

bigstock Highway Traffic Near Ann Arbor 69407431 725x400 41dac

By Randall C. Resch    

An east coast tow company transported a disabled vehicle from the highway’s shoulder. While slowly merging into fast moving highway traffic and over-head lights “on,” a motorist rear-ended the slow-moving carrier and was killed instantly. Regardless that the motorist crashed into the carrier, a wrongful death lawsuit ultimately blamed the carrier’s operator. 

This narrative is specific to highway scenarios where law enforcement isn’t on-scene. A slow-moving tow truck creates a considerable danger that demands precise movement on the tow operator’s part.  

AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety reported approximately twelve percent of interstate (highway) deaths were the result of crashes occurring on emergency shoulders. It’s estimated that as many as 600-individuals are killed annually with thousands more injured while situated on highway shoulders.  

Referring to the opening fatality scenario, the approaching motorist failed to slow-down and move-over; it was their improper reaction to SDMO (Slow Down Move Over) that caused their death. 

Worse yet, a tower’s survivability is challenged by some state laws prohibiting tow trucks from driving in-traffic with over-head ambers, strobes and rotor lights activated. 

Because on-shoulder crashes are frequent occurrences, consider these suggestions for tow trucks and carriers re-entering traffic from right shoulders or center medians: 

1. For SDMO “reaction” by motorists, tow trucks and carriers must be parked inside the shoulder (stationary) with over-head, emergency lights ”on"
2. From parked, at-idle positions, look rearward in the tow truck’s mirrors for approaching traffic 
3. Start driving forward; emergency light’s “on,” looking for a substantial gap between the tow truck and approaching traffic 
4. Activate the truck’s turn-signals to indicate your direction of travel and the lane you intend to occupy  
5. While remaining inside the shoulder’s white-line, accelerate and gain speed being aware of vehicles or obstacles that may be ahead on the shoulder. Watch for locations where the shoulder lane runs-out or pinches to a point 
6. With “Head on-a-swivel”, accelerate and estimate a realistic gap in-traffic to re-enter traffic 
7. Anticipate that same direction traffic may change lanes toward you at the same time you’re re-entering traffic  
8. Increase truck speed to approximately 50-miles-per-hour while watching following traffic. Merging from center-median or slow-side shoulder requires the truck’s speed to reasonably equal traffic flow  
9. Use turn signals. Keep arms inside the truck’s window for fear a motorist could crash into the tow truck  
10. When a substantial gap in-traffic is available, carefully merge into the next lane with the turn-signal still activated as speed increases  
11. Merge only when safe to do so. Once re-entry is safely made way into traffic-lanes (as allowed by state law), turn over-head emergency lights “off” unless the tow or load (for safe travel) impedes traffic 
12. Never assume they see you 

This is a great topic for your safety meetings. Re-entering traffic lanes from stopped, slow-rolling positions requires total attention and perfect depth-perception.  

This narrative may seem basic and unimportant, but it’s a necessary component of defensive driving and tow truck operations. I guarantee another unfortunate traffic collision like the opening scenario will happen again.  

Speed Limiters – Friend or Foe?

speedlimiting c735a
By Brian J. Riker

A common sight on America’s highways are two tractor trailers from large national fleets riding side by side for miles as they attempt to pass each other, incapable of building up the speed necessary to do so and so poorly trained they don’t know enough to give up and fall back in line. Annoying surely, safety hazard? Absolutely! 

Now imagine, if you will, a world where truck speed limiters are activated at some arbitrary speed on nearly all commercial vehicles operated within the United States. The dream of safety advocacy groups, large fleets and many government regulators is the nightmare of responsible professional drivers -including towers- everywhere. Worse yet, this nightmare is getting closer to becoming reality. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on May 4, 2022, proposed just such a scheme with their latest advanced notice of proposed rulemaking. This is nothing new; the FMCSA has been attempting to implement arbitrary, often dangerous, speed restrictions on large commercial vehicles for many years at the behest of large trucking companies and their trade associations. What is different about this proposal is the questions they are asking, especially centering around if speed limiters should be on all commercial vehicles or just the largest of trucks. Previous proposals only wanted to restrict CDL required vehicles whereas this proposal is asking about requiring speed limiters on all trucks greater than 10,000 pounds. 

Why is this so bad, and what does it have to do with towers? First, most towers operate trucks that likely would be covered under this proposal and though I do not advocate speeding under any circumstances, the proposed top speeds may hinder a tower’s ability to respond in a timely manner to requests for service by law enforcement, especially those responding in rural areas with great distances to travel on open highways. 

Next, we have the increased danger to all highway users that occurs when vehicles travel at substantially different speeds. This is why states with split speed limits for cars and trucks are dangerous and see more rear end collisions than other states without split speed limits. With proposed speeds as low as 62 miles per hour, imagine how many more times a truck will be passed or otherwise have to interact with other road users! These interactions are where and when crashes occur. This could even interfere with motorists’ ability to safely execute the requirements of slow down/move over laws because of traffic being forced to travel in tight clusters. 

Lastly, unless the speed limits imposed by these devices are variable to account for variances in state speed limits, professional drivers will lose their ability to use their best professional judgment on what is a reasonable and prudent speed at which to travel while maintaining safe interactions based on traffic volume, location and road conditions. Often the best course of action is to change speed, higher or lower, to avoid conflicts with other road users. Having a fixed, arbitrary speed limiting device installed removes this option from the professional’s toolbox. 

If you happen to agree, or disagree, with these points or the need for these speed limiting devices, now is the time to make your voices heard. Please contact your state and national associations and file written comments on this advanced notice of proposed rulemaking by visiting www.regulations.gov and searching for FMCSA-2022-0004. Please be respectful, clear and explain how this would impact your safety or the safety of your employees, family, etc. Include any data you may have available to prove your points. Please provide answers to the twelve specific questions contained in their notice as part of your individual comments. 

The speed limiter mandate is being promogulated under false pretenses. Simply put, large fleets are pushing for mandatory speed limiters to gain a competitive advantage over independent fleets when recruiting drivers. If all trucks are set up virtually the same, then there will be less of an advantage working for small fleets. At least that is how the large motor carriers see it. 

Safety groups are wrongly pushing for speed limiting devices to save lives, and although that is a goal we all should support, the data behind their request is flawed. While speed is a factor in many trucks involved in crashes, it is rarely the truck that was speeding, nor was the speed at the time of the crash more than the posted speed limit. Having a truck artificially limited to an arbitrary speed will not prevent these crashes; in all likelihood it will increase the number of cars crashing into the rear end of large trucks. 

If safety were the true reason for speed limiting devices, then the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation of variable speed limiting devices that respond to the posted regulatory or advisory speed limit on highways would be installed on all motor vehicles -not just large trucks. That is a proposal that makes sense from a safety perspective since numerous studies show that traffic is at its safest when all vehicles are travelling at the same speed. 

Whatever side of this issue you are on, now is the time to make your voice heard. The public comment period is short, only 30 days, and closes on June 2, 2022. Act now and make your voice heard! 

The Dangers of Unguarded PTO Components

PTO Warning2 c0269
By Randall C. Resch   

A newbie tower in Texas purchased a vintage wrecker from a small town tow company and shared with me his plans of hoping to grow his own company. He told me he used it around town for farming tasks on his parent’s rural property. He excitedly asked, “Would you have a look at it?” With interest, I moseyed to the old tow truck noticing (first thing) the vintage wrecker’s winch was missing its topside power take-off (PTO) drive chain cover.   

Although he was aware the cover was missing, he was eager to learn what was necessary to “make the old truck safe.”   So, in a safety’s sense, I explained that the tow truck’s wrecker equipment came originally outfitted with a PTO chain cover. I sadly advised that finding a replacement wouldn’t be likely, but he could have a metal shop build a replacement.   

While modern wreckers have advanced hydraulic and electric drive-systems, there’s plenty of old school wreckers still being used across America. If yours is an old-style wrecker or carrier with chain or shaft-driven PTO, this narrative should be of interest to you. 

PTO History 

Experimental PTOs were reportedly built as early as 1878, with homemade versions constructed over subsequent decades. It wasn’t until 1918 that Edward A. Johnston, an engineer with International Harvester Company (IHC), designed the first PTO for attaching farm implements to tractors. 

Mr. Johnston suggested a farm tractor’s PTO system could power implements and attachments between a tractor’s “tail shaft” connecting its engine to its transmission. As early PTO systems gained popularity and a means to power mechanical drive trains, it brought value to other service applications that powered dump truck boxes, fire truck pumps, cement truck barrels, tow truck winches and a bevy of equipment types. 

Although the system became highly desirable, PTO’s and their use led to hundreds of injuries and fatalities. According to the National Safety Council, they reported six percent of US tractor related fatalities (in 1997) involved PTOs. Farmers, children and workers didn’t foresee the dangers of unprotected shafts spinning upwards to 1,500 rpm. 

Beware the Dangers 

OSHA investigations identified this class of accident having to do with workers working in close-proximity to unguarded PTO components, or their extremities were dragged into spinning shafts because of baggy clothing and loose flying hair. The Internet is full of incidents where workers and equipment operators were violently injured or killed being caught in PTO components.  

Early tow truck mechanisms derived power from the truck’s engine to a connecting driveshaft. Mechanically, a large chain connected a PTO pump to the wrecker’s winch. A drive chain connected two gears’ between both systems where a spinning main (drive) shaft caused the winches gear’s to turn.  

Safety guards were strategically mounted so to cover dangerous spinning parts. When mounted in proper locations, guards kept objects, operators and personnel from being entangled in a PTO’s chain, shaft, or drive sprockets. Especially dangerous to tow operators are components that are openly exposed when safety covers are removed. Regardless as to your tow truck’s system, consider seven simple safety recommendations: 

1. Before working on systems, chock tires, place transmission in-gear or park while applying the E-Brake 

2. Always disengage the PTO  

3. If a guard is removed, situate a warning notice at the driver’s station or steering wheel. 

4. Turn engine “Off” and remove keys before exiting the cab. Removing ignition keys ensures no one can pre-maturely start the truck while maintenance is performed. 

5. PTO guards should never be removed during wrecker, boom and winch operations.  Inspect frequently to ensure guards are in good condition. 

6. Keep away from PTO components. Remove loose fitting clothing to avoid getting caught in spinning components. 

7. Never operate a tow truck when guards are removed, defective or missing. An unprotected, spinning PTO shaft or uncovered components can result in great bodily injury or death. My best advice: stay far away from an operating system. 

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May 18 - May 24, 2022

Western Modern

118347847 3318817848165647 7909233748083132373 n 79c5fBy George L. Nitti

In describing the killer logo found on his 2018 Kenworth T880 with a 1075 S Century Rotator, owner Nik Morgan says it projects the image of grit, iron, toughness, and bad to the bone.

Morgan, who owns Morgan’s Towing & Recovery, the largest tow company in Oklahoma, and starred in the realty T.V. show "Hustle and Tow, projects a similar image, where he is seen doing extreme recoveries with his 75 ton rotator.

The logo puts the Morgan name front and center, in a western styled font. Morgan said, “Afterall, we are in Oklahoma and we tow in the plains and the valleys through the countryside.” Contrasting the western flavor, however, is a modern scripted font, giving contrast between country and modern sensibilities.

Behind the white lettering of each of the fonts that are accentuated by shadows of red and black, is a diamond shaped design in a washed out black and white graphic with several stars and stripes. That shape is contained partially in a diamond plated frame as the crisp lettering extends over the diamond and onto the red background of the truck where modern black and white stripes give it further identification.

Morgan said, “I wanted to do something modern and contemporary with 80’s styled pinstriping. Something smooth.”

Those modern stripes can also be found on the side of the unit, extending across its large rotator real estate, with the Morgan logo and brand clearly standing out.

Morgan said, “I didn’t want a busy truck. Or a loud one. I wanted something calm to contrast with our name, so that would stand out.”

The red, white and black rotator, with a Western Modern flavor, is also enhanced by the yellow outriggers that stand out against those colors.

“Oklahoma’s Largest” pops in white lettering on the front sides of the truck. When asked about how he keeps up with such a large business, Morgan said, “It has a sleeper for a reason. It’s a dog house.”

 

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

Nostalgic “Hell Hound”

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By George L. Nitti

As a tow company, there often is no getting around the fact that towing is an around the clock enterprise. As long as roads are open, tow companies are working.

All Ways Towing, which is a slight play on the 24/7 concept, was the creation of Larry Broughton and his wife Sherry, who came up with the name after starting the company in Summerville, S.C., a suburb of Charleston, six years ago, just after Larry’s Pop, Larry Sr., passed away. Family owned and operated, their three children - Samantha, Larry, and Ashlie - are also involved in the day to day operations. 

On all of the company trucks, Larry has got a short tribute of his Dad on the back windows of their trucks: “In Memory of Pop.”  “From the age of four or five,” he said, “I was calling him Pop.”

Their 2023 Peterbilt 389 Century 9055 XL 50 ton, purchased from American Wrecker Sales near Columbia, S.C., also includes the same tribute on the back of the sleeper. Larry took delivery of the unit at the 2022 Florida Tow Show after waiting a year for it to be built.

“It was a surprise for my wife and it went well. It could have gone the other way,” he said dryly.

Also dear to Larry was his buddy Rocky, a pit bull who prematurely passed a couple of years ago on Father’s Day. He was only 4 years old. Larry’s got Rocky memorialized, his warm image gracing the Peterbilt sleeper.

You might say the truck is a bit canine themed, with a fiercer looking cartooned bulldog at the front-end biting down on a large tow chain, which extends across the wrecker.

Larry said, “My son wanted to name the truck ‘Hell Hound.’” Those words are found on the side doors. Remembering a quote from a tower who was recounting war stories of a recovery he did, Larry added the slogan, “Pulling Hell Off the Hinges.”

On the side of the wrecker, in a classy font with large reflective lettering, is the company name “All Ways Towing.” It pops out in silver and white lettering against a black background and an arresting hue of blue, the same color as Larry’s favorite football team, The Carolina Panthers.

“They are not doing so good these days,” he said. “I’m still living in 2015.” That was the year Carolina won the most games in the N.F.L, despite losing the Super Bowl in a close game to the Denver Broncos.


Graphics Fit for a King 


eblast 2b944By George L. Nitti 

Often outstanding graphics stand out for a variety of reasons. Color scheme is a primary attribute. Creative lettering another. A catchy logo and other images help. Blending together, these ingredients can make for the perfect tow truck. 

Tow King of Waco, Texas has the right package of elements giving shine to their 20 tow trucks. Drawing on the help of Precision Graphics over the last four years, their stellar wraps turn heads like a boom in the sky. 

Their 2022 Kenworth with a Vulcan V103 50 ton is three weeks fresh on the road after spending nine months cycling through a delivery process.  

Owner Gary Hoffman said, “We purchased three new heavies over the last six months. We had to replace one due to an accident and took advantage of an opportunity to buy another knowing how tight the market is.” 

In terms of color schematic, the company has had a 30-year tradition of using green. 

“The first truck that we bought was a two-tone green in 92',” said Hoffman. “We stayed green and when we started doing wraps, we’d buy a black truck and then do the green wraps on it.” 

Green flames envelop a good part of the wrap, particularly the hood and doors, where they cascade over and down the sides, with large chains crisscrossing. 

Another stand-out feature is its creative lettering, written in a royal font, spelling out the company name and aptly accompanied by a crown.  

“The company name came about from a road trip,” said Hoffman. “Someone threw out the name ‘Tow King’ and it stuck. We put a crown on the initial truck and now it includes all of them.” 

Other lettering, written in a hot pink, includes words on the boom like “Texas,” “Mistress,” and “Heavy Duty Recovery.” 

Always ready for duty, on the front of the unit, it states “Rolling 24/7,” while a pair of dice completes the image. 

The back of the unit includes reflective Chevron lettering with the words “Slow Down, Move Over.” 

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

May 18 - May 24, 2022

Actio PRO Radio

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Actio PRO is a wireless noise-cancelling radio built for those who are on the jobsite day in and day out—serious support for cutting background noise and creating safer, more effective workplaces. Actio PRO is packed with features like increased range, extended battery life, additional users, and more! 

Features 
- Powerful Noise Filter 
- Hands-Free—No “Push to Talk” 
- Up to 1650 Yds Total Range* 
- All-Weather Usage 
- Group Radio Up to 6 Users 
- Unlimited Use with On-the-Go Power Connection 
- No Earmuff Modification 
- Ability to connect multiple teams with 2-way radio 
- Use a Combination of Single-Speaker or Dual-Speaker Headsets 

What’s Included 
- Actio PRO Radio 
- Actio PRO Elastic Helmet Mount  
- Actio PRO Single-Speaker OR Dual-Speaker Headset with Waterproof Mic 
- Actio PRO T-Cable 
- USB On-the-Go Charging Cable 
- USB Charging & Data Cable 

For more information, https://speakeasycommunication.solutions/how-to/actio-pro/

Online Impound Auctions 

OnlineImpoundAuctions.com allows Tow Lot Owners to seamlessly dispose of their abandoned vehicles and maximize their sales revenue. The platform is designed with an understanding of Tow Lot Owners’ goals and business practices. 

At no cost to the seller, and the lowest bidder cost in the industry, the live auction platform increases bidder pool and eliminates the cost and effort of holding an onsite auction. 

Benefits

  • Free to sellers
  • Lowest cost to bidders in the industry
  • Larger bidder base = higher selling price per car
  • Cars stay on your lot – no movement required
  • Eliminates on premise auction costs like security, staffing and food
  • Easy online showroom setup on OnlineImpoundAuctions.com
  • Streamlines after auction paperwork – invoices available immediately after car sells
  • You collect all the Money
  • Special offers for Towing and Recovery Association members – ask us
  • White Glove services available – we will set up your showroom for you 

For more information, contact www.OnlineImpoundAuctions.com or 888-903-4678. 

Customer Testimonial from Buyer's Report, April 2022, American Towman Magazine

“For hosting and selling a large number of vehicles per month, Online Impound Auctions, LLC has been fantastic.  A Tow has two to three auctions a month selling hundreds of cars.  Online Impound Auctions streamlined and optimized the process to reduce our overhead while increasing our revenues.  A Tow was able to eliminate security, eliminate registration process for 100’s of people and focus on premiering vehicles to be sold.  Online Impound Auctions post reporting is useful to ensure you have the needed information for a successful auction.  Their competitive host pricing that can’t be beat.” 

Page Porter, A Tow Inc., Atlanta, Georgia 

The Life Saver: Cone Mounted Warning Light System

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The TowMate Life Saver Gets Attention and Saves Lives!
The rechargeable universal traffic cone light system includes rechargeable unit with two high-intensity LED strobes mounted to it and AC wall charger. Instantly mounts to most traffic cones. This system provides an amazing alert system in a small package.  

  • Move traffic over with this easy-to-deploy warning light! 
  • Multiple selectable flash patterns 
  • Lithium battery lasts 24+ hours on a charge 
  • Recharges off included AC wall charger 
  • Other color options available 
  • Made in USA 
  • Lifetime warranty on LED’s 

Customer Testimonial: “Over 50 years as a tower, I have tried everything to get traffic to pay attention: warning lights, cones, a flashlight on the fog line. Butch, my driver, was working a scene in his heavy-duty wrecker on I-90 at night in the pouring rain and had put his triangles out. Unsurprisingly, they had no effect. Remembering that he had been given the Life Saver, he placed it on a cone in advance of the triangles. What he saw next was like magic. He turned that light on and those people were all over in the far lane. He said he couldn’t believe how well it worked. It’s the best thing since a pocket on a t-shirt.”  Dave Stephens, Kellogg’s Service & Towing, Mead, Washington 

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May 18 - May 24, 2022
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May 18 - May 24, 2022
Car dealership owner Adel Elhindawi remains in critical condition after being shot at for repossessing a loaner vehicle.

Man Arrested for Shooting Owner of Car Dealership 

The man who shot the owner of a car dealership in Ft. Worth, Texas was taken into custody by Arlington police and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and robbery. 

The incident occurred around noon on May 16 when dealership owner Adel Elhindawi came to repossess a car loaned to Espy. After Espy’s car was repaired for mechanical issues and returned to him and his loaner not returned, Elhindawi came to repossess the vehicle. 

“For somebody to do this to a loving person who was doing a favor who was helping them out who was going above and beyond to help them out,” said Damien Espinoza, an employee at the dealership. “Give them a car when they needed a car. For them to do this to him, it’s senseless,”  

Elhindawi remains in critical condition. 

Read more at: https://www.star-telegram.com/news/

Repo involves Hatchet-Wielding Man  

As two men were repossessing a vehicle in Sioux Falls on May 10, the vehicle’s owner threatened them with a hatchet that he had pull out from his repo’d vehicle.  

The repo men had the vehicle hooked up to their truck when the man, thirty-three-year-old Philip Sven Glader, confronted them, threatening one of the men, but reportedly not striking him. The suspect damaged the repo truck with the hatchet, slashing one of the tires, before police arrived and arrested him. 

No injuries were reported by the repo men. The suspect was arrested for intentional damage to property and aggravated assault. 

https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/ 

https://www.dakotanewsnow.com/

Sub-prime Auto Loan Delinquency Rates Rise in February 

According to Deutsche Bank and Fitch Ratings, more sub-prime borrowers are falling behind on their auto loans. In February, the delinquency rate for subprime auto loans more than 60 days past due rose to 4.15%, the highest since April 2020 according to Deutsche Bank. 

Fitch Ratings also tracked February subprime auto ABS delinquencies at the highest since April 2020, but at a near 4.8% rate. 

Despite the rising trend, the delinquency rate was over 5% before the pandemic and all of the government stimulus kicked in.  

“Certainly, spending power from what we are seeing on inflation could leave the subprime borrower more vulnerable,” said Margaret Rowe, senior director in Fitch’s asset-backed securities group. “We were expecting to see delinquencies normalize or come back to those pre-pandemic levels.” 

Auto lenders often move quickly to repossess vehicles when a borrower falls behind on payments.  

“We believe inflation is more likely to impact subprime borrowers due to lower incomes and/or savings,” BofA Global’s strategy team wrote, in a weekly note. “This leaves the subprime auto loan ABS and consumer loan ABS sectors more vulnerable to credit deterioration, which could add pressure to ABS valuations in the coming months, especially at the subordinated level.” 

Source

2021 Repo Report Illuminates Key Stats

A 2021 Repo Report published by Experian, a credit reporting agency that notifies banks and financial institutions of individual credit worthiness, includes key repo stats such as the number of yearly repossessions (2.4 million), average daily repossessions (5418) and the most repossessed trucks (Ford F-150) and cars (Honda Civic) currently on the market.

Stats also include the 10 highest repossession rates in 2021. Nine states and DC are listed. Nevada is at the top of list.

10. Virginia
9. District of Columbia 
8. Georgia 
7. Oklahoma 
6. Texas 
5. Florida 
4. North Carolina 
3. New Mexico 
2. Arizona
1. Nevada 

According to the report, for every 2.4 cars sold, 1 existing vehicle on the road will be repossessed each year. 


Source

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