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Some precautions taken to lift an EV off of a railroad track.
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Nov. 16-18, 2023
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing November 30 - December 06, 2022

New Hampshire Dogged by Car Parts Shortages 

New Hampshire vehicle owners and mechanics expressed frustation over the continuing shortage of automotive parts. The ongoing shortage is creating long wait times for repairs, mechanics said. 

"There's parts delays on everything as far as brakes, exhaust, tires," said John Lightbown, service manager for Toyota of Portsmouth. "Lightbulbs are easy to get, but the stuff we really need to get people out on the road is very difficult to get right now." 

Key factors driving shortages are supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic, factories shutting down, backed-up ports and transportation, and staffing issues.  

Alan Amici of the Center for Automotive Research sees “incremental improvement” yet sees continued shortages not just in semiconductors, but metal stamped components and a whole variety of parts that feed the auto industry. 

https://www.wmur.com/



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TRAA Against Unique Electronic IDs for CMVs

TRAA submitted a public comment in response to a proposed rulemaking change that would affect the towing industry. The comments were solicited by FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), in response to amending safety regulations requiring every commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operating in interstate commerce to be equipped with electronic identification (ID) technology capable of wirelessly communicating a unique ID number when queried by a Federal or State motor carrier safety enforcement personnel. FMCSA maintains that it will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the roadside inspection program by more fully enabling enforcement agencies to focus their efforts at high-risk carriers and drivers.

In their public comment, TRAA stands against the amendment for several reasons. One critical reason mentioned stated: "As traffic incident management responders, towing and recovery professionals work tirelessly on the nation’s roadways to keep lanes of travel clear and safe for motorists and other commercial vehicles. Any proposal that potentially increases the time a responder is on the roadway only increases their risk of serious injury and death."

TRAA concludes that although they understand the intention of FMCSA, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), and other groups to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the roadside inspection program, if enacted, the proposal would be burdensome, costly, and pose a serious safety risk. 

Source: TRAA newsletter



Tesla on the Tracks

teslatracks1 91b2d
By George L. Nitti

On November 11, 2022, Nick’s Towing Service of Rutherford, NJ, was called in by the New Jersey Transit Police Department to recover a Tesla that was reportedly stuck on the railroad tracks in Emerson, NJ.  

“The driver apparently came down a parking lot and inadvertently hit the accelerator instead of the brake pedal, jumping a ravine, and leapt onto the tracks,” informed owner Nick Testa. “The family of four safely exited the vehicle with no injuries and NJ Transit stopped all rail activity until we got the vehicle off the tracks,” said Testa. 

Nick’s sent driver Dan Negron to scene in their 2013 Hino Century 21 ft flatbed, who found the Tesla straddling the tracks. Negron subsequently called dispatch for the company’s 2008 Peterbilt 1075 Century Rotator, driven by JT Sagun, and for recovery supervisor John Sagun, Sr. to be sent to the scene. 

Upon inspection of the Tesla Sagun, Sr. realized that the Tesla was leaking coolant from the battery pack. 

“You couldn’t drag it off the tracks for fear of shorting out the batteries. A rotator was needed to safely lift it off the tracks and get it into a parking lot,” said Testa. 

Using a Miller Spreader Bar to set up for the lift off the railroad tracks, the Tesla was lifted, rotated, and set down into a parking lot by the rotator. 

Since there had been some concerns about the leaking battery pack and potential damage to the batteries themselves, another unit was dispatched to scene. 

“We decided not to put it on our flatbed but rather to use our 2020 Dodge Ram Auto Loader with dollies, driven by Courtney Marsh,” Testa said. “Just in case the batteries went on fire, we could quickly drop the car without any damage to our equipment.” 

From there, the Tesla was taken to the company’s outdoor, secure storage facility, where it was segregated from the rest of the cars for fear of the battery going on fire.” 

Nick concluded, “The main concern is fire. Extra care and training are needed whenever you are dealing with an electric vehicle of any make.” 

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 georgenitti@gmail.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman Magazine!

Reality TV Stars Transform Tow Truck Next Level
By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


Towers on Vaccination
I got vaccinated without any side effects
I got vaccinated and had subsequent health issues
I am not vaccinated
I see no good reason to be vaccinated
Answers are anonymous
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Managing Editor: George Nitti
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
November 30 - December 06, 2022
On The Hook With Mr. Industry
Jonathan Begley

Georgia Tower Struck and Killed 

Tow truck driver Jonathan Begley, 41, died after being struck by a vehicle on an entrance ramp in Columbus, Georgia. .

Begley was hit while he was in the process of loading up a State Trooper’s vehicle that had broken down. 

He was pronounced dead at 10:49 p.m. friday night, Dec. 2. 

Source: wrbl.com

American Towman Exposition Gallery
homediv tow411
November 30 - December 06, 2022
The city of Chattanooga will vote on increasing tow rates.

Chattanooga City Council Voting on Higher Tow Rates

Chattanooga, Tennessee's City Council will vote on Tuesday to increase rates that towing companies can charge. Officials said the last increase was 18 years ago.

If approved by the City Council, daytime tows will go from $125 to $250, night/weekend/holiday tows from $135 to $275, daily storage (after eight hours) from $15 to $35 per day and extra winching from $50 to $100 per hour flat rate. 

For B Class, day time goes from $250 to $550 per hour, night/weekend/holiday goes from $285 to $550 an hour and extra winching from $150 to $300 per hour. 

For C Class, day time goes from $425 per hour to $700 per hour, night/weekend/holiday goes from $500 per hour to $700 an hour. 

Meetings between Mark Shackleford, owner of Shackleford Towing and Recovery who has been representing the towing industry, and City Council Member Raquetta Dotley resulted in the proposition of new rates. Those rates have been agreed upon by the towing companies. 

Source: chattanoogan.com


Tower Credited for Saving Woman in Burning Vehicle  

A tow truck driver, along with a police officer and university professor, are credited with rescuing crash victims who were trapped in burning vehicles on Highway 6 in College Station, Texas, on Nov 20,  after an SUV collided with a shuttle bus, the impact resulting in both vehicles catching on fire. 

Tower Raymond Charanza, also a volunteer fire fighter, saw the crash and jumped into action, after he says he missed his exit just before coming upon the chaotic scene. 

Charanza said, “When we rolled up on the vehicles on fire, we immediately stopped, jumped out, and rushed over to assist the citizens that were already there. I encountered a young lady in a vehicle screaming that she needed help to get out.” 

The woman he helped rescue was the passenger of an SUV driven by her boyfriend who died at the scene. 

“I found a way into the vehicle and was able to unbuckle her and pull her out of the vehicle safely,” said Charanza. “I cannot take full credit for any of it because it took all of us in the community. We all joined together to help these folks in their time of need and hopefully you know change these people’s lives for the better, show that the community is strong and we’re here for each other.”  

The driver of the shuttle bus that was hit from behind by the SUV was a high school coach and was rescued by the police officer and university professor. 

www.kwtx.com/

NYPD Officers Plead Guilty to Tow Scheme 

Three NYPD Police Officers pleaded guilty to steering damaged vehicles to a towing company operated by a former NYPD Officer.  

James Davneiro, a former New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer, and Giancarlo Osma pleaded guilty to conspiring to participate in a tow truck scheme to steer vehicles damaged in automobile accidents to a licensed tow trucking and automobile repair business company owned by retired NYPD Officer Michael Perri. The two officers took thousands of dollars in bribes from the tow truck business owned by Perri. 

These actions were in contravention of NYPD’s Directed Accident Response Program (DARP), which requires the NYPD to identify appropriate licensed tow trucking and automobile repair businesses to respond to automobile accident scenes and remove damaged vehicles. 

“These three officers abused the public’s trust and disgraced their NYPD badges by lining their pockets with bribes,” stated United States Attorney Breon Peace.  “This Office will continue working closely with our law enforcement partners to vigorously investigate and prosecute corruption by those who are sworn to enforce and uphold the law.” 

Source: justice.gov

Jerr-Dan Supports Survivor Fund with Sponsorship and Donation

Jerr-Dan sponsored the auction night that kicked off the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame annual induction weekend. Jerr-Dan’s vice-president and general manager Bob Nelson also presented the Survivor Fund with a $20,000 donation on behalf of the company. 

Since 2007, the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum’s Survivor Fund has provided immediate financial support to families of towing operators who lose their lives in the line of service. 

Auction Night, which was held this year at the Chattanooga, Tennessee Westin on Friday, October 7, opened the annual Hall of Fame event. When the total was finalized, donations from the 2022 silent and live auctions set a record— more than $335,000, far above the previous record. 

Nelson said, “As individuals and corporations, we came together to financially assist the families of our industry’s heroes. We all need to maintain that commitment to grow and strengthen the Fund the other 364 days of the year as well. As a company, we appreciate our opportunity to sponsor the auction and make a special donation tonight, but we also want to urge all who can to participate in the Museum’s continuing supporter program.” 

For more information on the continuing supporter program, click on the link: Survivor Fund

Source: Press Release_JerrDan

Chicago Tower Killed 

A Chicago tow truck driver was fatally shot on Sunday night, Nov. 13, according to Edwin Rivera, the manager of ASAP Towing and Recovery. He was shot in the armpit and then crashed into a bus stop.

“I lost a great friend over stupidity,” Rivera said. “The guy didn’t do anything. He was just on his way home. He was only three minutes, seven blocks away from his house.”   

The victim, not yet identified, just started working at the company five days ago. 

“For over 20 years, he’s been towing,” Rivera said. 

Unknown individuals in two different cars began shooting at the victim and fled, police added. 

Rivera says the violence has forced him to take his own measures of precaution when working.   

“Every single day, I’m in a tow truck. I don’t even listen to music no more, so I can listen for gunshots because they’re out there, constantly out there,” Rivera said. 
Source: wgntv.com

U.S. Senator Credits TRAA Advocacy

Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Senator (D-IL), who is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan resolution to raise awareness of “Slow Down, Move Over,” recently highlighted the advocacy of TRAA in promoting roadside safety.

Senator Duckworth said, “The increase in roadside incidents and fatalities in Illinois and across the country is both troubling and heartbreaking. I am pleased to have partnered with the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA) over the years, as they advocate on a number of issues such as enacting the Protecting Roadside First Responders Act. I look forward to continuing to work with TRAA on these and other issues as a voice of the towing industry in Washington.”

TRAA’s advocacy takes center stage on Capitol Hill in March, when TRAA members are encouraged to meet with congressional members to work on promoting positive legislation and opposing potentially negative legislation. At this year’s event, key relationships were forged that  lead to representatives Alex Mooney, Marcy Kaptur and Teras Leger Fernandez becoming bipartisan co-sponsors of a National Move Over Day Resolution.

TRAA’s efforts are also on display next week during Crash Responder Safety Week (CRSW), November 14-18. This weeklong initiative involving Emergency Responders across the country is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, where TRAA sits on FHWA’s Executive Leadership Group. Week long events are designed to raise public awareness to help keep roadway responders and the public safe around traffic incidents.

Source: TRAA Newsletter

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November 30 - December 06, 2022

Tesla on the Tracks

teslatracks1 91b2d
By George L. Nitti

On November 11, 2022, Nick’s Towing Service of Rutherford, NJ, was called in by the New Jersey Transit Police Department to recover a Tesla that was reportedly stuck on the railroad tracks in Emerson, NJ.  

“The driver apparently came down a parking lot and inadvertently hit the accelerator instead of the brake pedal, jumping a ravine, and leapt onto the tracks,” informed owner Nick Testa. “The family of four safely exited the vehicle with no injuries and NJ Transit stopped all rail activity until we got the vehicle off the tracks,” said Testa. 

Nick’s sent driver Dan Negron to scene in their 2013 Hino Century 21 ft flatbed, who found the Tesla straddling the tracks. Negron subsequently called dispatch for the company’s 2008 Peterbilt 1075 Century Rotator, driven by JT Sagun, and for recovery supervisor John Sagun, Sr. to be sent to the scene. 

Upon inspection of the Tesla Sagun, Sr. realized that the Tesla was leaking coolant from the battery pack. 

“You couldn’t drag it off the tracks for fear of shorting out the batteries. A rotator was needed to safely lift it off the tracks and get it into a parking lot,” said Testa. 

Using a Miller Spreader Bar to set up for the lift off the railroad tracks, the Tesla was lifted, rotated, and set down into a parking lot by the rotator. 

Since there had been some concerns about the leaking battery pack and potential damage to the batteries themselves, another unit was dispatched to scene. 

“We decided not to put it on our flatbed but rather to use our 2020 Dodge Ram Auto Loader with dollies, driven by Courtney Marsh,” Testa said. “Just in case the batteries went on fire, we could quickly drop the car without any damage to our equipment.” 

From there, the Tesla was taken to the company’s outdoor, secure storage facility, where it was segregated from the rest of the cars for fear of the battery going on fire.” 

Nick concluded, “The main concern is fire. Extra care and training are needed whenever you are dealing with an electric vehicle of any make.” 

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 georgenitti@gmail.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman Magazine!

Seaplane Goes for a REAL Ride

seaplanecover 44bdb
By George L. Nitti 

On Lake Livingston, a recreational water hole 45 minutes north of Houston, Texas, a pilot navigating a seaplane used for fighting forest fires dropped down for a water pickup when its pontoon struck a stump under the surface of the water, causing the plane to crash into the lake and sink. Fortunately, the pilot’s life was spared, but the wrecked sea plane would not be so lucky. 

The event triggered a three day, around the clock operation in the middle of August involving police, fire, hazmat, a tow boat and wrecker company, said Andrew Milstead, owner of Milstead Corporation. It was Milstead’s hazmat company, Milstead HMR of Conroe, Texas, that was summoned by an insurance company to coordinate the emergency response and to contain a ruptured fuel tank leaking fuel and hydraulic fluid into the lake.   

“After setting our eyes on the situation, the first thing we did,” said Thomas Wilson, Milstead HMR’s general manager, “was to put an 8-inch containment boom that goes slightly underwater and encircle that around the aircraft. Then we took a special pad, which repels water and soaks up hydrocarbons, and skimmed it around the contaminated area.” 

While Hazmat was working on clean up, Tow Boat US, which was brought in by Milstead, was working on floating the plane and helping to move it ashore, over a mile in distance. Their mobile unit included a Mako Center Console and a 25 ft. pontoon equipped with underwater airbags, generators and compressors. 

“The biggest challenge was the damage to the plane,” said Michael Montgomery of Tow Boat US. “One of the wings was broken and stuck in the mud. When I went into the water, I discovered that the lift points weren’t going to work so I had to do a lot of maneuvering of the lift bags to float and move it.” 

Originally the recovery team planned on taking the sea plane to a ramp on shore, near an RV park, but due to low water levels on the lake and a sandbar, they strategically turned their plan to using the bridge on highway 190, which spanned the lake. 

Hazmat then turned to Milstead Automotive and dispatched a rotator, where lead operator Chris Greenhaw would wait at the bridge with their 2019 Kenworth T880 Twin Steer Century 1075. 

Mongomery said, “The bridge has a causeway. We towed it to where the bridge started and anchored it there, tying on to the wrecker until they were able to close the bridge.” 

After staging it for several hours in that location, when local authorities closed the bridge around 11 p.m., Greenhaw moved the rotator to the bridge’s center while Hazmat HMR and Tow Boat US brought the plane over. Then Greenhaw pulled it up and over the rail and chain link fence. Greenhaw said, “We put a bridal on it and I just pulled it up.” 

Once brought onto the bridge, the final leg of the journey was getting the plane to the RV park, without doing further damage. 

Greenhaw said, “We put a sling underneath, right in front of the wings around the fuselage, and another sling through the cabin of the cockpit, and drove it approximately 1 mile with it hanging on the back of the wrecker.” 

To keep the plane moving in a straight line, due to its 60 ft. wingspan, Greenhaw secured the plane’s left wing with the deck winch and pulled it tight to the side of the boom. “By doing that, the wing is touching the side of the boom causing it not to sway back and forth,” he said. 

Two guides walked alongside the plane, using ropes to keep the plane steady, as the rotator moved at a two hour a mile clip towards the RV park. 

Wilson summed up: “It took us 3 full days to get that thing floated, everything right and get it to the bridge, crated and a mile and a half to a parking lot.”  

At the RV park, which the owners of the plane rented out for the whole week, the seaplane was dismantled and taken back to their hanger.  

The journey of a few miles ended the life of wrecked seaplane. But everybody got home safely, thanks to all the parties that participated along the way. 
........................

Editor's Note: Read this story in American Towman Magazine - Water Wreck: Salvaging a Seaplane

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 georgenitti@gmail.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman Magazine!

 



Rough and Ready Off-Road Recovery

Offroad BSFcover 8a929
By George L. Nitti

It’s been an off-road credo to never leave anyone behind. So says off-roading enthusiast and off-road recovery specialist Eric Huttner of Wisconsin's BSF Recovery.

Eric is a member of a popular off-roading club called the Minnesota Go-4 Wheelers, where he participates in an annual Memorial Day off-roading event at a sprawling nine-mile park in Wisconsin.

Called the Total Off-Road Rally, the 53-year-old, four-day event brings together approximately a thousand rigs and between 1500 to 3000 4-wheel enthusiasts who drive on a course that’s filled with obstacles. The tough terrain includes sand and rock hills; mud and clay; trees and rocks where competitions, monster trucks, trail riding, off-road racing, and comraderie converge.

Inevitably a truck or two goes down. Eric said, “When there is a break down, traffic can back up for hours. So a couple of years ago, some club members decided to build off-road recovery trucks to get those broken rigs out of there so we could keep traffic moving.”

To clear the trails of broken rigs, Eric uses a 1988 Chevrolet 1-ton K30, 4 by 4. On the back, he’s got an old Nomar wrecker box with an 8-inch suspension lift, 37-inch surplus holmby tires, dual wheels in the back, lockers in the rear and front, and hydraulics that include the boom, winch and assist steering.

At the event, Eric was summoned to recover a 1-ton Dodge Dakota with a Dodge Ram frame that was stuck on a rock. Eric said, “He bounced a little too hard, busting the distributor cap. He couldn’t run anymore and it needed to be picked up with a wrecker.”

Once Eric carefully navigated his way to the casualty, he attached the Dodge’s front end to the wrecker’s sling and boom. There he winched it up over a big rock. But getting there and rigging the truck is only half the battle, especially along tricky terrain that requires careful navigation. This recovery was done under wet conditions, the wrecker sliding in the mud before it could find what Eric calls the “the sweet spot.”

He said, “In the off-road world, the sweet spot is where you get some traction.”

Slowly moving it off the road, he had to turn along a hill, and got into a little trouble, as he was on the verge of rolling over. Eric said, “The front end was really light in the air.”

But quitting is not an option, despite the conditions or difficulties, including his own wrecker troubles, like working with a leaky brake line, as in this case, or a flat tire.

“We don’t give up. We don’t leave anyone in the woods.”

Eric’s good Samaritan work you might call paying it forward.

He said, “Always help anyone that needs help because you never know when you’ll need it.”

For more of Eric’s recoveries, visit BSF Recovery on their YouTube Channel.

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 georgenitti@gmail.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

 



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.
November 30 - December 06, 2022

Standard of Care

Bus Tow Wheelie 8b98f
By Brian J Riker

Perhaps the most dangerous statement I hear from a tow operator is: “I’ve always done it this way, been towing for 30 years without a single damage claim!” This statement usually comes right before they try to explain how they didn’t do anything wrong or differently than usual and don’t understand why they had a failure resulting in damages or injuries.

If you have been doing something incorrectly for thirty years, it doesn’t make it right; it just makes you lucky that nothing bad has happened. Yet. Every day, dozens of examples of this mentality are on prominent display across social media channels. Between the “if it fits it ships” crowd and the horrible rigging methods proudly on display, it is sad to think that so few out there really understand their chosen career.

This is where standard of care comes into the picture. As a human being we are expected to act in a reasonably safe manner. This is even more important for professionals as we should know better than the average human what is safe within our own profession. In legal terms, if a reasonable and prudent person would not have acted in a similar manner, then liability can be laid onto the person or persons that acted inappropriately.

Standard of Care within our industry is simple. Ask yourself these questions.

     -- Is what I am about to do safe and consistent with industry standard practices? (Safe means you were within the design limits of each piece of equipment, consistent with manufacturer’s recommendations, and the laws and regulations governing the industry).
     -- Am I trained and practiced at the task at hand?
     -- Do I understand what could happen if something fails?
     -- Do I know the ratings of all my equipment and the rules and regulations for using it?
     -- Do I have this information in writing in a policy manual?

Standard of Care touches everything we do, professionally. Keep in mind the following:

1. Use each piece of gear as intended by its manufacturer
2. Make sure when looking at everything together, nothing is being stressed beyond its rating
3. Always drive in compliance with the rules of the road
4. Get proper rest
5. Say “no” when a job is beyond the capabilities of your equipment, training or experience. (There is no shame in walking away from a job you are not prepared to complete safely).
6.Read and understand your operator manuals for your equipment
7. Study and learn the working load limits for your specific rigging and enroll in classes to learn how to properly use it.

Too many social media influencers show completely incorrect methods for towing and recovery, either because of their own ignorance or their desire to stir the pot just for reactions. Without clearly stating they are trying to be funny or provocative, new operators could get hurt by imitating what they see on these posts. Please do not decide what the appropriate standards for towing and recovery are by watching social media.

This is why professional training is paramount in our industry.

The Same Old Reasons 


fatality2 d794a

By Randall C. Resch  

While ample safety training is available to tow operators today, “why” hasn’t the message of on-highway safety been recognized by more operators? When towers go “boots to the ground,” they flirt with an uncertain destiny, also known in police code as “11-44.” 

Case in point. A Kentucky tow operator finished loading a pickup onto his carrier while parked on a highway’s darkened shoulder. As he was ready to depart, he “simply” returned to the truck’s cab walking on the white-line traffic side with his back to approaching traffic. As he stepped into the tow truck’s cab, a wayward pickup drove the shoulder’s edge and struck both the tow operator and the carrier. The operator was instantly killed.  

The driver of the pickup stated he was confused as to where the tow operator was and what had just occurred? What could the operator have done to ensure a higher level of on-scene safety?  

Just the Facts Ma’am 

An ensuing investigation in this case indicated this was a nighttime call around 10 p.m. The carrier was parked “in-front” of the disabled vehicle in the tow ready position. The investigation noted the location was extremely dark under ambient lighting conditions and cited there were no nearby streetlamps. Although the operator activated the truck’s overhead emergency beacons, investigators reported the operator did not provide any further advanced emergency warning through use of flares, cones, reflective triangles, or signage. 

Kentucky’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program studies “cause and effect” work-related fatals. Like OSHA, they make safety recommendations for workplace injury prevention. From the FACE investigation came five solid recommendations consistent with countless other fatal related investigations.  

The recommendations were: 

  1. Tow operators should limit the amount of time spent working, standing, and walking on the traffic-facing side of the truck. 
  2. Operator training must focus on techniques that limit time spent on-scene. “Time exposure” is a top reason towers are injured or killed due to the amount of time they take getting off the highway. 
  3. Law enforcement should be present to aid in traffic control when vehicles are to be towed. This happens when requests that law enforcement is made to provide a “visual presence”  
  4. There should be increased public awareness of the Move-Over Law.”  
  5. Tow truck operators should utilize emergency lighting, portable emergency warning devices such as cones, flares, sign boards, bi-directional reflective triangles, etc. 

Although the carrier had its over-head lights illuminated, the size of the disabled pickup may have blocked emergency lighting to the rear. While using these accessories takes extra minutes spent on-scene, they may add a higher level of advanced emergency notice to approaching motorists. Being seen is a number-one safety consideration! 

In addition to heeding these recommendations, tow truck operators and owners should consider attending a National Traffic Incident Management Course (TIM), for operators responding to on-highway calls.” 

Too many towers have no clue as to what dangers exist. Even seasoned operators become too complacent to initiate extra measures beneficial to on-scene survival. Worse yet, tow companies continue to send untrained and inexperienced tow operators to on-highway scenarios. 

Be That Change 

No matter what level of training or experience you have, nothing replaces “operator smarts” that demands tower’s work off the white-line side of approaching traffic whenever possible.    

The topic of white-line safety is one that’s been at the industry’s forefront for as long as the industry is old. It’s no mystery that a change in “industry culture” is long over-due!    

Auto Transport Services – Are They a Fit for Your Towing Operation?

autotransportsmall 32e8b
Brian J Riker

With survival at top of mind in these uncertain economic times, diversification has been brought to the forefront today. One area that seems to be a natural fit for tow operations is automobile transport. But is it right for you? Auto transport may use some of the same equipment as towing operations, but the service expectations are significantly different as are some of the legal requirements. Even with the additional complications, auto transport can still be a very profitable segment to add to existing operations.

Your first consideration is legal. Do you have the proper insurance coverage for transport operations? Your typical “on-hook” and garage keepers legal liability will not cover this work. You will need cargo insurance specifically for auto transport and, if you don’t already have it, public liability (MCS-90) of at least $1 million filed with the US DOT so that you can obtain for-hire operating authority (MC number). Qualifying as an interstate motor carrier is almost a necessity given the origin and destination of the vehicles and the intent of interstate shipment of these vehicles.

The requirements for new vehicles can be cost prohibitive for a new transporter. There is a concept known as constructive total loss, where even a small amount of damage may be enough to “total” the vehicle under the terms of your contract; however, your insurance carrier will only pay for the actual damage, leaving you on the hook for the balance of the damage as compared to retail value of the vehicle. Often these vehicles are sent directly to the crusher. You pay retail price for it and don’t even get to keep it!

Today there are many ways to get a piece of the proverbial pie, some easier than others, but all effective. Keep in mind that the easier it is to get your slice of pie, the lesser it’s value may be.

Load boards are a dime a dozen, offering rock bottom wholesale “spot market” rates for movement of used or wholesale vehicles. This may be an easy way to test the waters before investing a lot of time into sales and marketing in your local area. Once you are comfortable in the market, specialized services such as high value units, home delivery or inoperative vehicles may be a good fit for maximum profitability.

Your drivers will need to be equipped with a smartphone or tablet since most, if not all, brokers and major shippers of automobiles require use of digital condition reports, usually on their own proprietary app. This is critical; these inspection reports cover you from damage claims and become part of the invoicing process. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. In car hauling, those pictures may be worth thousands of dollars.

Once you have decided that auto transport services are right for your company you may want to consider adding some specialized vehicles to your fleet. Many auto brokers don’t want their vehicles transported with wheels on the ground, instead requiring trailer or carrier service. New vehicle transport even has strict rules on the type and style of tiedowns that may be used. Almost every OEM requires over the tread straps instead of hooks and chains or the traditional “8-point” k-straps used in the towing industry.

There are several options available from dedicated 9 or 10 car stinger-steer transporters to high-mount 7 or 8 car trailers that can be pulled by any standard road tractor and now even specialized two and three car units targeted at the home delivery model. Some operations have even found success with hotshot type trucks, basically pickup trucks pulling 3 or more cars on a lightweight trailer.

One word of caution: auto transport requires an extreme eye for detail. Even the slightest scratch can become a big claim, especially dealing with personal owned vehicle transport service such as corporate relocation or “snow bird” service. Please keep this at the top of your mind when selecting services to offer, equipment to purchase and team members to operate it.

This week in Baltimore, Maryland, at the 33rd American Towman Exposition (Nov. 16 - 19, 2022), several seminars will focus on new business development and growth. Consider expanding your horizons. For a complete listing of conferences and seminars, check out https://atexposition.com/#conferences

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November 30 - December 06, 2022

Breaking New Ground 

By George L. Nitti 

This year at the 2022 American Towman Exposition in Baltimore, Md., Aimes Collision of Freeport, Long Island, took first prize for best in class, light duty, pre-2020, in the American Wrecker Pageant.  

It wasn’t the first-time owner Joe Gutman has won for this special unit, which is themed “Breaking Ground,” done in lizard green color and having a cracked, mud like effect.

Executed on a 2014 Ford F550 with a Chevron 408 T back, most of the creation was masterfully airbrushed by industry famed artist Cecil Burrowes about 3 years ago, with Gutman adding his own special touches on the T back and garbage cans.  

In the weeks before the show, Gutman madeover the dashboard, adding in green and purple accents to match the green, purple and black color scheme on the unit’s exterior. 

Gutman said, “I have always loved airbrushing. I took it in high school. I observe Cecil’s work and look at all of the crackles for inspiration.” 

On the purple boom, in a green script, words state: “In Loving Memory of Dad.”  

“My Dad had a shop in Brooklyn, before coming out to Long Island,” Gutman said. “I was working with him as a young kid and fell in love with the business. As a tribute, I wanted to incorporate some of his old trucks into one and dedicate it to him.” 

One of his Dad’s inspirations was a love for Roger Rabbit, whose graphic is found on the hood of the unit, along with a sultry, voluptuous and buxomed Jessica Rabbit, artistically rendered against a black background. 

The front of the unit particularly stands out, with a purple accent around the green grill while the company name also pops in two toned colors of green.

Although many tow companies shy away from customized air brushing due to damages sustained on the roadway to the paint job, Gutman maintains damages can be covered up by simply adding more of those black lines that give this themed truck its cracked effect. 

“My Dad also liked having a lot of lights,” added Gutman. “So I continue to add strobe and body lights to it.” 

Inspired, masterfully painted, excellently presented - it's no wonder this unit keeps breaking new ground. 

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

Transforming Fleet

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By George L. Nitti

As Andrew Van Winkel, manager/supervisor of A+ Towing of Eugene, Oregon, was working on an expansion phase of adding heavy duty wreckers to the company's fleet several years ago, he suggested naming their new units after characters from the Transformers, an ongoing sci-fi action series that took off post 2000’s, built on the Hasbro Transformers franchise of the 1980s.

“We did all kinds of planning,” Van Winkel said, “And as we were discussing things we could do, I said, ‘Why don’t we do something with Transformers.’ So then we looked up all the different characters from the Transformers and that is what we landed on.” Currently they have two units named after characters from the series, Optimus Prime and Megatron.

One of those units is a heavy-duty blue and red flamed themed unit called Optimus Nine. It’s a 2015 Western Star 4900sb Century 9055 with SP-850 XP side puller (50 ton).

“We acquired it from Jamie Davis from the show Highway Thru Hell. That used to be his truck,” he said. “We’ve had it for 3 years now.”

Van Winkel, who said the company buys a lot of its trucks from ZIPS, said that “Trent Russler called us and let us know that he had it.”

The unit is wrapped in customized, classic flames in two color tones, red and blue. Van Winkel said, "If we go to sell it, we want to be able to take off the wrap. They will get replaced due to emission compliance standards."

The first set of flames extends from the front end of the unit, towards the center of the hood, where the blue flames flicker across a red background. Then along the cab, red flames dance on a blue background. Finally, at the back end of the unit, red flames fold into blue.

A key highlight of the graphics include the enlarged company name, A+ Towing, along the Western Star’s side doors, and the wrecker body, where the A+ name is done in mega sized letters.

“We are actually two companies, owned by Kelly Reed,” said Van Winkel. “A+ and Webfoot.” 

Adding to the Transformer imagery, on each of the trucks is found faces like Megatron’s Deceptivecon and Autobots, a race of robots hiding on earth from Megatron.

Van Winkel noted that “Optimus 9 is a fully, functional recovery truck. It has every bell and whistle that you can think of to do recoveries other than being a rotator.”

Now Five Heavies strong, next up for this transforming company is a 25 ton heavy on order from ZIPS that is built just like Optimus 9.

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

Plotting a Modern Design

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By George L. Nitti

Chris DiNino, general manager of Town Plot Automotive Inc. of Waterbury, Connecticut, explained why the company, over the last few years, has made changes to their tow truck graphics, which were once all painted.

 “We used to do everything in house. Those paint jobs were time consuming because each color was applied and taped separately. We had to clear over everything,” he said. “It would tie up our paint booth for seven days. It was a lot of labor and a lot of time.”

He added, “Wraps are more efficient and cost effective.”

To date, the company has redone three of the members of their fleet in a snazzy wrap that bursts with a spectrum of lines, slightly tribal, consisting of subtle variations of green, even aqua, rather than the old-style two-toned colors of green and white.

“Working with graphics company 32 Signs, I said to them, ‘Let’s try out a wrap. I want something new with tribal striping but more modern looking.’ We went back and forth. I would say there’s a little tribal in there. We worked it until it fit.”

Their 2017 Kenworth Tractor W900 with a 2021 50 ft. Landoll 440B is a perfect specimen of the new style they’ve cultivated.

“I use it for bigger accidents,” he said. “We had a void in our business and were outsourcing those jobs and so I said, ‘Let’s get a nice tractor and a low boy and open another door.’ We got it at the end of 2020.”

On the side of the truck, at the foot of the doors, the subdued “Town Plot” name stands out in white lettering against an all black background. DiNino said, “Because the design is busy, I didn’t want to put many words on it.”

Although an unusual name for a tow company, Town Plot has been around since 1968, and does a lot of local work, including all of the automotive repair for the state police. “We have a good reputation.” he said. “Everybody knows us here.”

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

November 30 - December 06, 2022

Headsets for Crew Communication

EVADE SDXT copy 5cb79
Eartec EVADE are a new class of Light Industrial, full duplex headsets designed for professional crews that need hands free, simultaneous talk, wireless communication. Single and dual ear EVADE feature deluxe padding and a sleek, fully adjustable headband that provide outstanding comfort. The Evade XTreme is a heavy duty, dual ear model that can be worn with a hard hat.

All EVADE headsets are self-contained and feature a compact full duplex transceiver built inside the ear cups eliminating wires and belt packs. Complete intercoms include one “MAIN” unit that relays the digital signals generated by up to eight “Remotes”. The headsets link automatically without a HUB or base station making them easy to operate and affordable. Evade wireless can connect up to nine users within a 400-yard range enhancing coordination, productivity, and safety.

For more information on this product, https://eartec.com/

Lock Out Set - The Ultimate Long Reach Kit

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The Ultimate Long Reach Kit includes every tool and accessory you need to open virtualy any vehicle on the road today using the long reach method. This 21 piece kit is the most comprehensive and complete long reach tool set ever made. Four of the most popular long reach tools, Button Master and Mega Master snare tools, two Air Wedges, two pry-bar style wedge tools, protective lockout tape, slim jim, windshield mounted flashlight for nighttime openings, our new heavy duty long padded carrying case with internal pockets, and the list goes on.. With this kit in your toolbox, you will never need any other tools to perform world class professional lockouts.

--Most Popular Tools Include
--Most Comprehensive Kit
--Easy To Transport
--Perfect for Beginners and Pros

For more information, contact accesstoolsusa.com

Tow Operator Lighted Safety Vests

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Class 3 ANSI approved illuminated breakaway safety vest with option of illuminated ID panel.  

- Fiber Optic Illuminated strips can be seen through any adverse weather conditions.

- These vests are designed to give added visibility when you are out in Highway traffic.

- The illuminated strips are USB rechargeable and charges in 1 1/2 hours and run for 8 to 10 hours on time.

- Many options of illuminated ID panels available. Example: Trucker, Tow Operator. Call for any custom ID panels.    

https://nightlightsafety.com/?fbclid=IwAR0EvIUxzcTnvC7iL6amgLoXKrQWOiwOupaLG2w-ztO-DMU4eL-umEc2Alc 

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November 30 - December 06, 2022
Show More
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November 30 - December 06, 2022
Auto loan and lease balances are surging.

Auto Loan Balances and Delinquencies Rise  

Despite a 19% decline in auto sales over the last 3 months, balances on auto loans and leases are surging due higher priced vehicles and constrained supply. Auto loans also surged because used-vehicle prices had spiked. 

Balances on auto loans and leases increased by 2.2% in Q3 from Q2, and by 6.1% year-over-year, to a record $1.52 trillion, according to data from the New York Fed’s Household Debt and Credit Report. 

The rate of all auto loans and leases – prime and subprime – that were 30 days and more past due rose to 6.2% in Q3, according to the New York Fed’s Household Debt and Credit. 

Source: wolfstreet.com

GM Financial to Pay 3.5 Million for Illegal Repossessions

GM Financial, GM’s finance arm, has agreed to pay 3.5 million to settle allegations that they breached US federal law in violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act by illegally repossessing 71 vehicles and by mishandling over 1,000 vehicle lease termination requests. 

GM Financial is to pay $3.5 million to the affected servicemembers and a $65,480 civil penalty to the government. In addition, $10,000 will be paid directly to each of the 71 servicemembers who had their vehicles unlawfully repossessed. 

The department alleges that GM Financial has improperly denied lease termination requests, charged illegitimate early termination fees, and failed to provide timely refunds of lease amounts since 2015. 

https://gmauthority.com/

Repossession Ends in Death

A tow truck driver shot and killed a man while trying to repossess his car Wednesday, Sept. 21, in Fort Lauderdale.

The driver, whose name has not been released, was trying to repossess a Chevy Malibu around 10 a.m. when confronted by the victim, 38-year-old Clarence King. According to reports, an alteraction ensued between the victim and the shooter and shots were fired.

A witness who lives in the neighborhood told a local news station that it “sounded like four shots — pop, pop, pop.”

“The tow truck driver was just standing over the body on the phone. He looked up, started looking around, started seeing multiple people coming up, and that’s when he started jumping up and down saying, ‘I think I just killed a man,'” another witness told WSVN.

Police are working with the Broward County State Attorney’s Office to determine whether charges will be filed against the tow truck driver, who hasn’t been identified, reports said.

https://patch.com/

Tower Shot in the Arm during a Repossession 

In San Diego, a tower was shot in the arm while attempting to repossess a vehicle that was illegally parked at an intersection.

After being shot in the arm, the tower called 911, who alerted the San Diego Police. 

The police said a woman and a few others confronted the tow truck driver. The woman pulled out a gun and shot the driver at least once in the arm, SDPD said. The driver was taken to the hospital and expected to survive. 

The group was believed to have retreated into a nearby apartment complex, prompting police to surround the building and call a SWAT team to respond. 

After several hours, officers made their way inside two apartments and searched the units. No one was inside and the SWAT standoff was called off, SDPD said. 

SDPD says they are still searching for the woman.  

https://www.nbcsandiego.com/

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