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The Week's Features
Helicopter recovery proves to be a thrill ride.
Randall Resch weighs in on recovering and transporting upside down vehicles.
Vintage tow trucks that still get the job done.
All new winches from Warn Industries.
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Nov. 21-23, 2024
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing July 08 - July 15, 2024

Maritime Traffic Resumes through Port of Baltimore Bridge

Authorities expect the Port of Baltimore to return to normal commercial shipping levels after the channel fully reopened following the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

In a Twitter post, President Joe Biden said, "Thanks to the grit and resilience of Governor Moore, our Unified Command, and every last man and woman who worked tirelessly in response to the France Scott Key bridge collapse – The Port of Baltimore is open for business again."

The collapse in March had halted most maritime traffic and required a $100 million cleanup effort involving multiple agencies. Now that the channel has been restored, companies that had rerouted their cargo are expected to return.

The port, which processes the most cars and farm equipment in the country, saw significant economic impacts from the collapse, affecting thousands of workers. Thousands of longshoremen, truckers and small business owners have seen their jobs impacted by the collapse and its economic ripple effects, which extend well beyond the Baltimore region.

The Biden administration has pledged full federal funding for the bridge rebuild, estimated at nearly $2 billion, but congressional approval is pending.

The cargo ship Dali, which caused the collapse, was refloated on May 20, allowing partial channel reopening and now full resumption of two-way traffic. Investigations into the incident continue.

Source:www.ttnews.com/


American Towman Today - July 14, 2024
American Towman Today - July 14, 2024
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Tow Company Unveils North America's First EV Tow Truck

Published: Friday, July 12, 2024

Canadian tow company CAA is introducing what it claims to be North America's first all-electric tow truck, the Lion5, which will operate in the Quebec area.

This development comes 80 years after the company launched its initial horse-drawn towing services. The towing platform for the Lion5 was manufactured by XpaK Industries.

“Roadside assistance has always been a core part of CAA-Quebec’s mission, and our step into electric towing is a natural progression. We are committed to leading by example and playing a significant role in environmental protection,” stated Marie-Soleil Tremblay, president and CEO, in a press release.

The tow truck is equipped with a 210 kWh capacity and can travel up to 310 km (192 miles) on a single charge. The 800-volt battery packs are produced by Lion Electric. CAA will be testing the truck in various towing scenarios and weather conditions over the next few months.

CAA-Quebec also utilizes other electric vehicles, such as the Hyundai IONIQ, Ford F-150 hybrid, and the F-150 Lightning.

“This vehicle provides efficient service while greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, showcasing the versatility of Lion trucks,” said Patrick Gervais, vice-president of trucks and public affairs at Lion.

“With this new 100% electric tow truck, made in Quebec, we are contributing to the transformation of the towing industry. We are proud to be part of a more sustainable and cleaner future with partners like CAA-Quebec and XpaK.”

The towing platform is 25-30% lighter due to its use of lightweight materials and the electric nature of the truck, which also eliminates the risk of hydraulic fluid leaks.

Source: www.trucknews.com/



The first electric tow truck was deployed by a tow company in Quebec.

Redundant Systems – Are Your Prepared for Natural Disaster?

Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2024

reduntoperations 06ae5
Brian J. Riker

As Hurricane Beryl sowed destruction in parts of the Caribbean this past week, and on the heels of recent devastating flooding and tornados throughout the Midwest and Central United States, I asked myself if I was properly prepared for a natural disaster to strike my home and office. The answer, sadly, was not quite. In my quest to be prepared, please allow me to share a few tips with you.

Redundant Systems

Our lives now depend upon near instant communication, not just for continuation of business, but for alerts from government safety agencies, news and other important notifications that may just save our lives. Long gone are the days of having a secondary telephone line or a two-way radio to stay in touch with critical people. Today we need to think about having multiple providers of these services.

This past February, a planned software update by AT&T, one of the largest global telecommunications firms, left their network down and out for days while they tried to recover from a botched software update. If you were one of the millions of businesses that relied upon AT&T for your telephone or internet services, you were left in the dark. This highlights why you should always have a second supplier of critical services, independent of the primary supplier. Updates, disaster response and the threat from organizations hellbent on disrupting networks are everyday hazards. You have spare trucks, so why not spare telephones, computers and internet providers?

Pro Tip

When choosing internet or telephone, make sure these independent providers have separate networks and don’t share resources in your area. You might be surprised at how often the major telecom companies share resources, especially in rural or underserved areas.

Bug Out Bags

Anyone living in the western US, where wildfires are commonplace, is familiar with the concept of a bug out bag. This is a bag that is always at the ready containing critical documents, medicines and life essential items that you can grab and go as you run out your door. Even for areas not prone to wildfires or other natural disasters the concept of a bug out bag is important.

For personal lives, it should contain just as stated above, life critical items and key identification papers like birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, bank account numbers and such. Everything you need to survive and reestablish your life should something happen to your home.

For your business, the same concept applies; however the information contained within is more complex. Included in this bug out bag should be spare keys to facilities and equipment, emergency contact information for employees and critical accounts and service providers (you can’t count on restoration of computer-based files quickly) and emergency action plans that are updated at least annually, more often for very complex operations or when key people change roles or leave the company. Perhaps you need two of these bags, one for your key person to grab at the office and a duplicate kept off-site, perhaps at your home, to ensure the information is always accessible.

Having the employee contact information on paper, rather than relying on your cell phone contact list or H.R./payroll database allows for quick contact using alternate methods such as driving to their home or using a public or borrowed landline when your cell phone is down.

Fortunately, most business today is conducted electronically, so your bug out bag really can be a three-ring binder with emergency plans and critical business contacts inside while your data is stored remotely on a cloud based or physical server that is located somewhere other than at your office. Having your business computer data backed up to multiple systems is important to reduce the risk of your backup device being compromised from the same disaster. This goes beyond just natural disasters and includes fires, theft, computer hackers, ransomware and more.

Your bug out bag should also contain a dedicated cell or sat phone, laptop computer and independent cellular or satellite-based modem, something separate from your primary internet and telephone provider, so when one fails there is a chance the other will still work. It is also well advised to keep an old-fashioned am/fm radio in there for monitoring emergency alerts and maybe a handful of traditional two-way radios, not the cellular based ones, but traditional two-way radios.

Pro Tip

As an amateur radio enthusiast, I encourage you to develop a relationship with your local ARRL club since they often practice for restoration of critical communications during disasters and likely have the experience and equipment to help you maintain service to your community, especially related to police or fire department activities your business may support.

Geographical Separation

With modern weather forecasting being better than ever before we often have advanced warning of most natural disasters. If you make it a habit of monitoring news outlets, weather broadcasts and community alerts you should be able to place some physical separation between you and the disaster, at least for some mission critical business assets. Get your most important trucks to higher ground or out of the direct path of the storm while you can so that they are available to serve immediately after the event has passed.

This same concept applies to garaging all your equipment in one location, worse yet, inside one structure. Should you have a fire or other catastrophic loss to that facility you will lose your ability to conduct business. Spread out your equipment, especially one of a kind or mission critical pieces, across separate buildings or better yet, separate facilities when possible.

Pro Tip

Remote alarm and video monitoring can help expedite emergency response when something does happen to your facility or equipment. As with your telecom needs, consider installing more than one platform for telematics inside your vehicles. Thieves are good at finding and disabling factory telematics, along with most aftermarket devices, however very few will anticipate you have redundant systems for gps tracking and geofencing. Monitoring and responding to these alerts in real time can help recover valuable equipment quickly in the event of theft or vandalism attempts.

In conclusion, disasters strike without prejudice. Please review your personal and business life safety needs to ensure you will survive whatever may come your way. We often forget to prepare ourselves even though we are in the business of rescuing others form unfortunate circumstances. Please take a few moments to prepare so you can avoid becoming the next victim.

A HUGE thanks to everyone who came to Texas for WreckWeek / TowXpo!
By Don Lomax
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July 08 - July 15, 2024
A new law in Philadelphia will require tow truck drivers to take photos of violations before towing vehicles.

New Law Requires Photo Evidence Before Towing

Published: Thursday, July 11, 2024

A new state law signed by Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro will soon require tow companies to take and provide photographic evidence before towing a vehicle. 

State Representative Jose Giral, who sponsored the bill, introduced this legislation in response to numerous complaints from constituents about wrongful tows. Starting in September 2024, towers will need to take photos that clearly show the vehicle's license plate, the specific parking violation, and any relevant signage before the tow. These photos must be provided to the vehicle owner free of charge and kept for 60 days or until the vehicle is claimed. 

"This simple but necessary measure would ease the appeals process for parking violations in Philadelphia and allow for a fair system that keeps both drivers and the enforcers of our laws accountable for their actions," said Giral. 

Some companies already take photos as a precaution. However, it will now be mandatory, and tow companies will need to be diligent in capturing clear evidence of the violation. 

The Philadelphia Parking Authority is on board with the new requirement, and there is potential for this legislation to expand to other areas in Pennsylvania, such as Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. 

Source: 6abc.com/post

Speed Limit Changes: Key Insights for Towers

Published: Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Speeding is a significant safety concern, contributing to nearly one-third of road fatalities over the past two decades. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's recent study, “Uncovering the Spillover Effect from Posted Speed Limit Changes,” highlights crucial findings for the towing community. 

Key Findings: 

-- Beyond Interstates: Raised Interstate speed limits can cause safety concerns on adjacent roads. Spatial analyses revealed multiple hot spots on these roads, indicating a significant spillover effect. 
 
-- Local Impact: Increased speed limits improve traffic flow but may elevate safety concerns on nearby roads. Close coordination between transportation departments is essential to mitigate these effects. 
 
-- Visual Tools: The study introduced a tool to identify and visualize areas with speed-related crashes, aiding in developing targeted safety strategies. 

The Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA) values this research, which underscores the need for coordinated efforts to enhance roadway safety. 

Source: TRAA Press Release

Nashville Booting Sues State Over New Booting Law

Published: Monday, July 08, 2024

Nashville Booting LLC has filed a lawsuit against Tennessee’s governor and attorney general, challenging a new state law they claim will put them out of business. The law, which took effect on July 1, caps boot removal fees at $75, requires removal within 45 minutes of a request, and mandates that booting companies obtain a license to operate.

The company contends the law is unconstitutional and will cause "irreparable harm" by prohibiting third-party booting in commercial lots. “The Act effectively legislates Nashville Booting out of existence by requiring that only ‘owners’ of properties manage booting or towing vehicles parked on those properties,” the lawsuit states.

Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), who sponsored the bill, said the legislation targets "bad actors" in the booting industry. "If you’re going to go to the egregious step of immobilizing someone’s vehicle when there could be an emergency, you’ve got a sick child that you need to get to the hospital and you come out and you find that your vehicle has been immobilized. Those people need to be held accountable,” he said.

Nashville Booting LLC insists it complies with Metro Nashville’s booting code and has more than 60 service contracts that will be disrupted by the law. Despite this, the company faced criticism for past non-compliance. Steven Knapp, a Nashville resident, called the lawsuit “karma,” noting that the company had previously booted cars without a valid permit. “It’s interesting to see that a company like Nashville Booting that was found to not be following the rules for their business is now suing the state for passing a law meant to protect people from exactly that type of behavior,” Knapp said.

Theresa Costonis of Metro Legal acknowledged the law's impact on booting companies during a recent Metro Nashville Transportation Licensing Commission meeting. “It does seem to me to be very disruptive of their current business model,” she said.

Source: www.msn.com

Towman Killed in Accident at So. California Landfill

Published: Friday, July 05, 2024

A tow truck driver was tragically killed in an industrial accident at the Simi Valley Landfill and Recycling Center on Monday, authorities reported.

The incident occurred around noon at the facility, according to Ventura County Fire Department reports. Deputies from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office responded at approximately 12:15 p.m., stated Capt. Carl Patterson.

Capt. Patterson explained that a semitrailer hauling a load of gravel had tipped over, prompting the call for a tow truck to assist in righting the trailer. “While the tow truck driver was trying to right the trailer, he went to the side opposite where he was pulling from,” Patterson said. “Something gave way, and the trailer fell back on top of him, crushing him to death.”

No details about the driver, including his age and city of residence, were immediately available.

The landfill in Simi Valley is operated by WM, formerly known as Waste Management. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, also responded to the scene, Patterson mentioned.

TRAA Continues Fight Against Overreaching Fee Regulations

Published: Wednesday, July 03, 2024

The towing industry faces significant challenges related to transparency in towing fees for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and so-called predatory towing practices. The US Department of Transportation has requested the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to include CMV towing practices in its "junk fee" rule, which addresses unfair and deceptive fees. The FTC is considering adding consumer predatory towing practices to this rule. 

The Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA) opposes this inclusion, emphasizing the unique nature of towing transactions, lack of sufficient research for proper rulemaking, negative impacts on traffic incident management and public safety, and the jurisdiction of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) over towing fee transparency. TRAA met with FTC Commissioner Melissa Holyoak and her staff voicing those industry concerns after meeting previously with the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection.

TRAA seeks congressional support and urges the FMCSA to adopt a moderate approach, arguing that the FTC should defer to the FMCSA and state authorities. TRAA appreciates those planning to submit public comments to the FMCSA, which has extended its comment period to August 1. This extension offers a crucial opportunity for stakeholders to voice their opinions and shape fair regulations.

Interested parties are encouraged to submit their comments by August 1, 2024, via the Federal eRulemaking Portal, mail, hand delivery, or fax. Mail: Dockets Operations, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building, Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001 Hand Delivery or Courier: Same address as above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays Fax: (202) 493-2251 For further information, contact Larry W. Minor, Associate Administrator for Policy, FMCSA, at (202) 366-4012 or larry.minor@dot.gov

Source: TRAA Newslettter

 

Florida Tow Companies Must Comply to New Statute

Published: Tuesday, July 02, 2024

HB179, approved by the House, Senate, and signed by Governor DeSantis, takes effect on July 1, 2024. Towing companies must review the statute and comply with changes, which include:

-- Notice of Claim of Lien letters must be sent within 5 business days, or no storage fees can be charged. Letters must be posted by 11:00 am EST on the 5th business day.

-- Notice of Sale must be digitally posted by a third-party. Newspaper ads are required only for tows before July 1, 2024.

-- Vehicles under 3 years old must be held 57 days with notices mailed 52 days before sale; vehicles over 3 years old must be held 35 days with notices mailed 30 days before sale. Law enforcement holds are limited to 30 days.

-- Rate sheets must be posted and available upon request. A lien release fee up to $250 is allowed.

-- Rental agreements are not proof of agency, preventing renters from releasing vehicles.

-- Towing companies must accept diverse payment methods.

-- Bond posting procedures and related legal processes are also outlined. Consult an attorney for details.

Source: Sunshine State Towing Association

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July 08 - July 15, 2024

Rotator Fishing

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2024

rotatorfishing 52de2

Sometimes your GPS can get you into big trouble. Case in point, a lady driver discovered that when her GPS told her to take a right in her 2019 Chevy Silverado, it led her to veer off a rampway and break through a small fence. She ended up landing into a pond about the size of a football field, just outside an Auto Owner’s Insurance Company.

Fortunately, she had insurance on her totaled vehicle and swam away unscathed.

The dispatch came in early morning to P.J.s Towing of Lansing, Michigan. They were called by the Sheriff’s County Office to meet up with a two-man dive team and initiate a water recovery. Led by 20-year veteran heavy duty tow operator Jeff West, P.J.’s brought their 2022 Kenworth W900 with a Century 1150.

“Jeff met the dive team there. They came up with a plan on how they were going to get it out. Jeff instructed the divers to hook an endless loop around the rear wheels, shackle them, and join them together with a unity ring, wherein a winchline was sent from the rotator,” said owner P.J.

He continued, “From there, we were able to winch the truck from 12 ft. under water all the way back up to land. Then we picked it up with the rotator and set it down on one of our rollbacks and transported it back to the shop.”

According to P.J. it was a smooth recovery, in large part thanks to the operating ease of the rotator, which made light work of what might be classified as a medium duty tow, taking into account the water resistance and weight of the Silverado.

P.J. said, “The rotator is great. It’s versatile, you have 35 feet or so of reach and 50 thousand pound winches. With smaller trucks, the boom goes out one stage, so you may only have an extra 8 feet and the winch lines are not nearly as heavy-duty.”

Although a fairly standard recovery, PJ advised, “Figure out the safest way to recover the vehicle without doing further damage to it and work with your police department.”

Helicopter Recovery 1, 2, 3 

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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By George L. Nitti

It’s not on a tower’s everyday checklist to encounter a recovery involving a helicopter. Some may seem so easy that towing companies might wish they had more to invoice on – a nice piece of change compared to those more conventional pickups from a motor club dispatch.  

Jerry Zehrung III, lead operator for Schofield, Wisconsin tow company Lightening Express Towing, said, “I never thought I’d have a helicopter hooked on the boom of our heavy wrecker. It’s just that you really never know what kind of call you’re going to get.” 

Zehrung relished the opportunity to sink his teeth into something just a little more offbeat than his day to day, finding his first-time helicopter recovery a bit of a thrill ride, literally. Bringing his 30-ton 06’ International on a Jerr Dan wrecker into the wreckage scene, a half mile ride on a piece of overgrown land once a landing strip, you might say he found it like a Safari ride, sans giraffes and elephants, cougars and hippos. Zehrung was having fun driving driving down a bouncy half mile trail on soft sand towards destination recovery. 

Upon arrival, a team from the anonymous helicopter company included a mechanic and trailer driver waiting on Zehrung to play his part in this recovery encounter.  

“It was a catastrophic failure,” said Zehrung. “The helicopter was 3000 feet (about twice the height of the Empire State Building) up in the sky before it had engine failure. The pilot had to do a steep dive to get the blades spinning really fast. Unbelievably, everybody walked away.” 

First things first, Zehrung got out of his wrecker and did a walkabout through the long, tall grasses in order to find a spot to position his wrecker. He didn’t want to plant it on a soft spot. 

“I wanted to make sure I could get the wrecker into position to lift the aircraft,” he said. 

Rigging would be no problem. The crew of the helicopter company had it under control, including concocting specialized rigging made of steel cable to hook onto the blades of the helicopter rotor.” 

“We told them that their having more knowledge of the aircraft that it would probably be better for them to rig to the helicopter and let us rig our tow truck to their rigging.” 

With everything under control, Zehrung was in command of the lift off, lowering his 19-foot stick to the helicopter rotor, and then attaching his winch line to the steel cable which was attached to the helicopter. All Zehrung had to do was lift up and put down the casualty onto the specialized trailer, as easy as 1, 2, 3. 

“It couldn’t have been more perfect the way that it landed,” said Zehrung. “The whole thing took about 45 minutes.Every now and then we get some pretty crazy stuff.” 

Indeed, recoveries often come in surprise packages. You never know what you’re going to get in that cracker jack box. Even a helicopter. 

Bigger is not Always Better

Published: Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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By George L. Nitti

Although tow operators are skilled at maneuvering their units in tight spaces, some spaces prove more challenging than others, requiring a different approach and equipment. 

Such was the case when McGuire’s Towing & Recovery of Ashland, Kentucky was called in the afternoon to recover a dump truck weighted down with more than 10,000 pounds of gravel. It had overturned on a narrow county road that was partially under repair.  

“The dump truck went up the hill and had to back down the hill,” said principal tow operator Stephen McGuire. “When there’s a lot of weight on a small road and you get too close to the edge, it will give way. So this dump truck rolled right over into a ditch.” 

Ideally McGuire’s would have recovered the dump truck with their 50 or 60 ton rotator, but that was impossible under the circumstances.  

Arriving on scene 65 miles from their location, brothers Stephen and Sam McGuire brought in their 2018 Ram 5500 2465 Century 12 ton/SP 9000 Side Puller and a 2015 Peterbuilt 337 Century 3212 16 ton. 

Stephen said, “The two trucks that we got in there were about as big as we could get in there.” 

Looking at the little room in which they had to maneuver and the extreme angle at which the dump truck was perched, Steve admitted that the recovery looked daunting, saying to himself, “This is going to be a nightmare. Maybe we will come back tomorrow.” 

But as the two brothers prepared for the job (they have been working together since they were kids driving with their father at 8 to 10 years old) they were resolved to finish what they started. 

Stephen said, “Working with my brother – we kind of feed off of each other. We’ve never left anything behind.  Everything we went after, it’s came out and it’s come with us at the time we went to go with it.”  

The first line of business was clearing the area and offloading some of the gravel. Fortunately, a Kubota Excavator was being used along the county road and was available for their use to clear away brush, briar thickets and poison ivy around the casualty.  

“We also had to deal with a huge hornet nest that was buried in that bank on the top side of the dump truck,” said Stephen. 

Then the tow operators positioned their trucks in front and behind the casualty. 

“We had to take the front hubcap off to get the truck in place because there was no room to get any angle. We backed up one truck a mile and half while the Dodge was driven in.” 

Establishing winch lines to the casualty, Stephen ran a three-part line to the front springs of the passenger side of the dump truck while Sam handled the back side, running a two-part line to a tree about 50 feet up the hill and back down, where it was hooked to the backside of the driver’s side. 

Tightening up the lines, they checked for any issues that would have “showed themselves up” during the recovery process and slid the truck up sideways until they were able to upright it by first sliding the rear onto the road and then pulling up the nose of the truck. 

“We had to work quickly,” said Steve. “In these hills it gets a little darker a little faster.” 

With mission accomplished in less than an hour, the truck was drivable, with no damage. 

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!



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July 08 - July 15, 2024

Redundant Systems – Are Your Prepared for Natural Disaster?

Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2024

reduntoperations 06ae5
Brian J. Riker

As Hurricane Beryl sowed destruction in parts of the Caribbean this past week, and on the heels of recent devastating flooding and tornados throughout the Midwest and Central United States, I asked myself if I was properly prepared for a natural disaster to strike my home and office. The answer, sadly, was not quite. In my quest to be prepared, please allow me to share a few tips with you.

Redundant Systems

Our lives now depend upon near instant communication, not just for continuation of business, but for alerts from government safety agencies, news and other important notifications that may just save our lives. Long gone are the days of having a secondary telephone line or a two-way radio to stay in touch with critical people. Today we need to think about having multiple providers of these services.

This past February, a planned software update by AT&T, one of the largest global telecommunications firms, left their network down and out for days while they tried to recover from a botched software update. If you were one of the millions of businesses that relied upon AT&T for your telephone or internet services, you were left in the dark. This highlights why you should always have a second supplier of critical services, independent of the primary supplier. Updates, disaster response and the threat from organizations hellbent on disrupting networks are everyday hazards. You have spare trucks, so why not spare telephones, computers and internet providers?

Pro Tip

When choosing internet or telephone, make sure these independent providers have separate networks and don’t share resources in your area. You might be surprised at how often the major telecom companies share resources, especially in rural or underserved areas.

Bug Out Bags

Anyone living in the western US, where wildfires are commonplace, is familiar with the concept of a bug out bag. This is a bag that is always at the ready containing critical documents, medicines and life essential items that you can grab and go as you run out your door. Even for areas not prone to wildfires or other natural disasters the concept of a bug out bag is important.

For personal lives, it should contain just as stated above, life critical items and key identification papers like birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, bank account numbers and such. Everything you need to survive and reestablish your life should something happen to your home.

For your business, the same concept applies; however the information contained within is more complex. Included in this bug out bag should be spare keys to facilities and equipment, emergency contact information for employees and critical accounts and service providers (you can’t count on restoration of computer-based files quickly) and emergency action plans that are updated at least annually, more often for very complex operations or when key people change roles or leave the company. Perhaps you need two of these bags, one for your key person to grab at the office and a duplicate kept off-site, perhaps at your home, to ensure the information is always accessible.

Having the employee contact information on paper, rather than relying on your cell phone contact list or H.R./payroll database allows for quick contact using alternate methods such as driving to their home or using a public or borrowed landline when your cell phone is down.

Fortunately, most business today is conducted electronically, so your bug out bag really can be a three-ring binder with emergency plans and critical business contacts inside while your data is stored remotely on a cloud based or physical server that is located somewhere other than at your office. Having your business computer data backed up to multiple systems is important to reduce the risk of your backup device being compromised from the same disaster. This goes beyond just natural disasters and includes fires, theft, computer hackers, ransomware and more.

Your bug out bag should also contain a dedicated cell or sat phone, laptop computer and independent cellular or satellite-based modem, something separate from your primary internet and telephone provider, so when one fails there is a chance the other will still work. It is also well advised to keep an old-fashioned am/fm radio in there for monitoring emergency alerts and maybe a handful of traditional two-way radios, not the cellular based ones, but traditional two-way radios.

Pro Tip

As an amateur radio enthusiast, I encourage you to develop a relationship with your local ARRL club since they often practice for restoration of critical communications during disasters and likely have the experience and equipment to help you maintain service to your community, especially related to police or fire department activities your business may support.

Geographical Separation

With modern weather forecasting being better than ever before we often have advanced warning of most natural disasters. If you make it a habit of monitoring news outlets, weather broadcasts and community alerts you should be able to place some physical separation between you and the disaster, at least for some mission critical business assets. Get your most important trucks to higher ground or out of the direct path of the storm while you can so that they are available to serve immediately after the event has passed.

This same concept applies to garaging all your equipment in one location, worse yet, inside one structure. Should you have a fire or other catastrophic loss to that facility you will lose your ability to conduct business. Spread out your equipment, especially one of a kind or mission critical pieces, across separate buildings or better yet, separate facilities when possible.

Pro Tip

Remote alarm and video monitoring can help expedite emergency response when something does happen to your facility or equipment. As with your telecom needs, consider installing more than one platform for telematics inside your vehicles. Thieves are good at finding and disabling factory telematics, along with most aftermarket devices, however very few will anticipate you have redundant systems for gps tracking and geofencing. Monitoring and responding to these alerts in real time can help recover valuable equipment quickly in the event of theft or vandalism attempts.

In conclusion, disasters strike without prejudice. Please review your personal and business life safety needs to ensure you will survive whatever may come your way. We often forget to prepare ourselves even though we are in the business of rescuing others form unfortunate circumstances. Please take a few moments to prepare so you can avoid becoming the next victim.

Speeding is a Reckless Act 

Published: Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Speed Too Fast PIC 7d1cd
By Randall C. Resch 

Police investigators alleged a speeding carrier failed to stop for a red signal light, which was later determined to have been “red” approximately ten-seconds. According to witnesses, cameras and debris at the crash scene, “evidence” estimated the carrier was traveling at about 60-mph in a 30-mph zone when it slammed a Los Angeles, CA, metro bus, June 2013. Upon impacting the bus, the carrier’s weight and momentum, sheared a curbside hydrant and continued into the front facade of a convenience store. Based on total annihilation of the bus and carrier, “speed” was said to be the “obvious” primary factor in this horrific collision. 

As the tow operator reportedly clinged to life at an area hospital, LAPD investigators continued their investigation to determine whether or not charges of vehicular manslaughter or murder would be forthcoming. 

In Philadelphia, July 2022, another tow truck scenario resulted in a violent crash that killed a female motorist when the speeding tow truck T-boned her car. In May 2023, allegedly a speeding wrecker struck a 67-year-old bicyclist as he crossed one of Houston’s intersections.  

First Responder Mentality 

Recently, a long-time southern California wrecker driver was ticketed for driving 50-mpg in a school zone. He said, “I was a bit over the speed limit cuz’ I was heading to a crash on the highway.” He asked if he was exempt because he was a first responder? Sorry dude, tow trucks in California aren’t “authorized emergency vehicles.”  

It's important towers fully understand “how” their state vehicle code defines tow trucks when it comes to towers being “first responders.” In many states, tow trucks aren’t recognized as such. What does your state’s vehicle code define? 

With no authorization to display red and blue lights, or narrative to specifically describe tow trucks as first responders, towers aren’t authorized to respond in Code-3 manner (emergency lighting and sirens), or use emergency shoulders to respond. The same goes for using center divider turn-outs to make U-turns. 

When towers follow internet videos, they’ll see influencers promoting Code-3 response which further complicates the issue. While Code-3 response (for tow trucks) may be authorized in some states, there’s no authorization across the board for all states.  

Defined by Law 

Especially true to tow trucks responding to collisions, there are three driving actions that oftentimes “go out-the-window.” 1.) Getting there “first” is a driving force of getting paid. 2.) Towers try to meet twenty or thirty-minute requirements of law enforcement contracts. 3.) For responders headed to emergency calls, “Sirencide” is an emotional reaction where personnel feel a sense of power and urgency that ignores reason and prudence. 

So, let’s talk basics when it comes to response. There’s no doubt that when a tow operator hears “Expedite,” or thrusts into “first responder mode,” unsafe driving behaviors are likely to occur. This is especially true to towers paid by commission or companies who monitor police frequencies. Racing to the scene isn’t an art, but a collision waiting to occur. 

Getting there First 

While getting “there first” is a noble thought, unsafe driving actions go against simple law. For example, California’s Vehicle Code Section, 22350, Basic Speed Law, describes, “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”  

There’s nothing reasonable or prudent about driving large and heavy tow trucks at speeds too fast for conditions. Tow trucks don’t stop-on-a-dime and are far from being nimble at higher speeds. 

Let this narrative serve as another reminder that a conviction for speed, reckless operation, or preventable crash could garner a total number of points against one’s driver’s license. A cumulation of too many points could make the offending operator “uninsurable” by tow company insurance providers.        

Operations Editor Randall  C. Resch is a retired, veteran, California police officer, former tow business owner and industry advocate. As consultant and trainer, he authored and teaches tow truck operator safety courses approved by the California Highway Patrol. For 51-years, he has been involved in the towing and recovery industry. In 28-years, he has contributed more than 700-safety focused articles for American Towman Magazine, TowIndustryWeek.com and is a frequent seminar presenter and pageant judge at tow shows. In 2014, he was inducted to the International Towing and Recovery Industry Hall of Fame, was the 3rd recipient of the industry's "Dave Jones Leadership Award," and is a member of American Towman’s Safety Committee.  

Email Randy at rreschran@gmail.com

Summer Safety 

Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Benjamin and Bwon Otter in Equipment copy 037c6
By Brian J Riker 

We are well into summer season with minds wandering to beach trips, backyard barbeques and vacation destinations far away. While summer season means a bump in work for many towers, especially those in tourist destinations, it also means increased dangers for all roadway users. 

With the warmer weather also comes more children. With school out for summer break children fill their heads with thoughts of recreation and easily lose focus on the hazards surrounding them. Perhaps you take advantage of this break in the school schedule to bring your own children along with you in the truck for some bonding time? 

For the heavy-duty operators, summer also means more kids accompanying family members in big rigs and extra children in truck stops. These kids are already familiar with big trucks and may be even more curious about your tow truck, so please, use extra caution when driving through truck stop parking lots. This makes it especially important to always conduct a circle check every time you move your vehicle! 

Children, and pets, have been killed because they were under a vehicle that was placed in motion without the operator knowing. I have made it a habit to approach any vehicle I am driving from the passenger side, walking a complete 360 circle around it before entering the driver seat. 

No matter how you look at it, when there are children around, it is more important than ever that we be aware of what they are doing and where they are doing it. Kids love trucks and do not have fully developed danger mechanisms, so they don’t think twice about climbing in, on or under trucks that they may find interesting. 

Another old slogan I recall each summer is “behind each bouncing ball comes a running child.” I recall seeing this plastered all over trucks in the northeast when I started driving, and it is true. Keep a close eye between parked vehicles for kids that may be hidden from your view and unaware that you are driving nearby. 

Summer means longer days, warmer weather and perhaps some well-deserved recreation. With this change in the seasons, we must not lose focus on safety, ours as well as that of the general public. Enjoy some time off, but please stay safe since tragedy doesn’t stop just because you are on vacation. 

Let’s hope this all translates into some much-needed work without any major tragedies on our highways, after all we know tourists are often not focused on the condition of their automobile or the suitability of the route their gps navigation system suggests. AAA predicts record setting travel this summer, so I expect this will lead to some interesting adventures from the motoring public. 

July 08 - July 15, 2024

Attention Grabbers: Bright Yellow Trucks and Dinosaur Deliveries

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2024

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By George L. Nitti

When you are looking for a tow truck, some colors are clearly easier to spot than others.

 According to William Alexander, owner of AAA Towing of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. “Yellow is very noticeable,” he said, “and pairs well with green, which is the other color on my truck.”

Alexander notes that his four-truck tow fleet, which includes 3 flatbeds and a boom truck, are all painted yellow and airbrushed with green ribbons by their in-house employee named Soldier.

His 2001 GMC Topkick with a 21 ft. Century bed recently grabbed my attention as I was driving around the island of St. Thomas, not far from the island of St. John, where I reside. My wife and I had taken the ferry over to the larger island and soon spotted Alexander’s bright yellow tow truck parked at a storefront.

Circling the truck, I first noticed the green ribbon on the back cab of the unit tied in a bow containing the name Don Richards, aka Abbadon, who was a former tow owner that was murdered in 2019 as the ends of the bow extended along both sides of the Century bed

“He was my best friend,” said Alexander. “He was shot in a parking lot, after someone called him for a tow. It was a set up.”

I also noted on the bright unit, just to the right of the hood, a small emblem of a lion.

“I’m a Leo,” said Alexander. “To me, the lion represents stamina. This business isn’t easy. You have to be ready to go out at all times of the day. If your body is not built for this shit, you just can’t do it.”

On the hood of the unit, writ large is the word “CAT” which stands for Caterpillar engine.

If Alexander’s yellow tow truck however is not an attention getter for you, a recent job he did transporting a Dinosaur from a school cross island would surely turn your head.

“I was driving around the island with it to advertise an event being held at the high school from where I picked it up,” he said. “Everybody was honking their horn, wanting to take pictures. I was a movie star now.”

It’s Showtime 

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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By George L. Nitti 

It’s Showtime! Yes, Red River’s latest eye-catching, hard to miss wrap is somewhat of a departure from their previous wraps, inspired by a party barge boat with graphics designed by Digital Effects Signs and Graphics of Texarkana, Arkansas.  

Texarkana, a border town between two states (“one leg in Texas, one leg in Arkansas”), is not too far from the Red River, which the company was named after.  

The company name clearly stands out, written in large red, yellow and white letters that slant down on the sides of their 2020 Freightliner with a 22-foot steel JerrDan rollback. 

Brad Sinyard, the driver of the unit, said he was given some autonomy on the design.  

“I just wanted it to look like the party barge that the Bossman has,” said Sinyard. “He lets me do what I want for the most part. I’ve been with the company for nine years. We grew up since we were little bitty.” 

Bold and colorful is how Sinyard describes their newest unit. “It makes a statement of who we are.” 

Besides its clear lettering, its colors burst with a design that can be characterized as graffiti art.  

“It’s something you would see on trains,” said Sinyard.  

On the outside, the name Wayne Akins is memorialized.  

“He is the owner’s father, who passed away in 2013 and was a towman,” said Sinyard. 

Akins started the company in 1979, according to owner David Akins. “My father’s daily mantra to customers was to make sure to always tell them that ‘Everything’s Gonna be Alright,’” said Akins. “It just stuck with us. Now we tell our customers that. We know that it’s not the best situation at the time. But things will get better.” 

To match up the exterior bold design with the inside, Sinyard said that the seats, dashboard and other areas inside the truck were redone, giving it somewhat of a retro, modernish feel and definitely something for customers to feel better about, particularly when listening to the new sound system that was put into the truck. 

On the backside of the rollback, it states “It’s Showtime.”  

No doubt about it, this wrecker was born to shine. 

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! 

Memorial Day Tribute Truck Honors Veterans from American Wars

Published: Wednesday, June 05, 2024

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By George L. Nitti

On Memorial Day, it’s most fitting to give tribute to the men and women who died serving our country.

Bee-line Transport, Inc., of Lynchburg, Virginia, in the vein of an earlier tribute wrecker dedicated to first responders and the military, pays homage to Memorial Day with their 2020 T880 Kenworth with a 40-ton NRC wrecker, which paints a rich tapestry of scenes that includes veterans, monuments, family members and other symbology dedicated to this solemn cause.

Marketing Director Leah Jones, daughter of Bee-lines Kevin Jones, said, “This truck focuses on all veterans who have fallen in the line of service.”

Serving as a mural on wheels, a montage of images on both sides of the wrecker captures poignant scenes honoring their lives.

Jones said, “There is a lot going on. Every time you look at it you notice something else going on.”  

It’s not important where you start, because before you know it you are enmeshed in these stories that span generations of American Wars.

For the Jones family, having two service members enshrined on the truck is a source of great pride.

Jones said, “On the passenger side above the rear wheels, you will see the images of my Dad’s dad and my Mom’s dad, who both served in the 2nd World War.”

Close to them is Lynchburg’s Monument Terrace, a memorial giving tribute to Lynchburg’s fallen spanning different wars.

“Each landing pays tribute to a different war,” said Jones.

Also on the passenger side, moving towards the sliding wrecker's center, other key images include a regiment of soldiers transporting the casket of a fallen soldier, a battalion of D-Day soldiers sitting together in front of the National V-Day Monument, and 3 soldiers fighting in Vietnam, where more than 58,000 were lost. Enhancing this imagery are symbols like the American stars and bursting poppy flowers that line the bottom perimeter of the rotator.

Jones said, “I love the flowers. It’s one of my favorite details. Poppy flowers are a symbol of veterans. It was designed by Brooke Hill. She pulled the inspiration from her father.”

On the other side, a marine dressed in formal uniform, is folding a flag, and next to him is a military man playing taps with Arlington Cemetery the backdrop. Yes the eye keeps moving, across the body of the wrecker, sometimes resting on wording found on the unit, such as  “20 Veterans die each day of suicide. Over 30,000 veterans have died of suicide since 2001" or the 14,000 Prisoners of War who also gave their life.. 

A tribute like none other, this unit stands out to majestically honor the men and women who served and died giving to the cause of freedom.

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July 08 - July 15, 2024

Inflatable Air Bag

Published: Friday, July 12, 2024

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Steck Manufacturing Introduces the EasyWedge Inflatable Air Bag Three-Pack Combo. 

Key Features: 

-- Durable & Multi-Use: Ideal for emergency vehicle access, vehicle repair, construction (window and door fitting), appliance leveling, DIY home use, and more. 

-- Three Sizes Included: Perfectly sized for various markets and applications, with individual bags also available. 

-- Compact & Lightweight: Easy to insert into tight spaces, non-marring design protects surfaces, trims, and finishes. 

-- Heavy-Duty Construction: High-frequency sonic welded edges ensure long-lasting durability and a tight seal. 

-- Ease of Use: One-handed operation with precision inflation control and quick deflation. 

-- Versatile Tool: Essential for towmen, vehicle repair professionals, contractors, and more. 

-- Reliable Solution: Great for accessing hard-to-reach areas during lockouts, auto repairs, and building construction. 

For more information, visit: steckmanufacturing.com 

All-New ZEON XD Winches

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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Warn Industries has introduced the all-new ZEON XD winches for trucks and SUVs, marking a significant upgrade from their previous ZEON winch model. Leveraging over a decade of experience, the ZEON XD is part of Warn's Premium Series and is designed, engineered, tested, and assembled at their ISO-quality-certified facility in Clackamas, Oregon. This winch features a new high-performance electric motor and gear train, achieving a best-in-class line speed of up to 40 ft/min.

The ZEON XD is available in two capacities, 10,000 lb. (ZEON XD 10-S) and 12,000 lb. (ZEON XD 12-S), both equipped with Spydura synthetic rope. The winch boasts enhanced IP68 and IP69K waterproof ratings, corrosion-resistant fasteners, full-metal armor for protection, and the most efficient three-stage planetary gear train to date. Additionally, it includes a corded waterproof remote and HUB wireless receiver for remote control via the WARN HUB app.

For durability and reliability, the ZEON XD features a large-diameter aluminum-alloy drum to reduce stress on the rope, the strongest through-drum rope attachment, and an ultra-reliable Albright contactor for electrical control. The winch also offers a limited lifetime warranty on mechanical components and seven years on electrical parts, supported by Warn's global service network.

For more information, go to https://international.warn.com/

Bi-Directional Pneumatic Air Hammer

Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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The AIRSTRIKE -  Bi-directional Air Tool. From fleet repairs to heavy equipment, its 3,000 blows per minute deliver maximum power. 

Durable, compact, and loaded with accessories, this is the ultimate pneumatic hammer and puller you need in your tool kit.  

Applications 

Quickly pull stuck fuel injectors 

Remove diesel/gas NOx & particulate sensors 

Pull stubborn oil tubes & stuck oil seals 

Attach to locking pliers for popping stuck fasteners and more 

Loosen hydraulic fittings 

Remove stubborn nuts and bolts without thread galling 

Remove harmonic balancers 

Bust seams of spot welded bonded panels 

Hem narrow window flanges

View more details here: https://steckmfg.com 

 

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July 08 - July 15, 2024
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July 08 - July 15, 2024

Auto Loan Delinquency Continues to Rise  

Published: Wednesday, May 01, 2024

A study by attorneys at Thompson Consumer Law Group analyzed 2022 and 2023 auto loan data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to see which states had the highest percentage of auto loan balances delinquent for more than 90 days. Their results showed it’s not only a problem everywhere but it’s increasing. 

Between 2022 and 2023, the percentage of auto loan balances over 90 days delinquent in America increased from 3.81% to 4.2%, and every state experienced an increase.  

The study showed these states with the highest percentage of auto loan balances delinquent: 

Mississippi: 6.77; Alabama: 6.05%; Georgia: 5.71% Louisiana: 5.69%; Indiana: 5.29%; Hawaii: 5.24%; Michigan: 5.24%; Delaware; 5.2%; South Carolina: 5.2%; North Carolina; 5.14%. 

A lending officer at Michigan First Credit Union says he sees delinquent payments steadily climbing.  

Jeff Fitrzyk, their chief lending officer, said, “We’re also seeing an increase in repossessions, both voluntary and involuntary,” he added, noting people are dealing with inflationary pressures that demand their immediate attention and one of the things that often falls behind are auto loans, which seem to be returning to their pre-COVID levels. 

Source: www.macombdaily.com

Towman Murdered in Florida 

Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Towman Juan Garcia, 39, owner of JL Towing, was murdered late Wednesday, April 10, in what police authorities are investigating as a connected crime involving another woman who was carjacked and murdered as well.  

Garcia was killed at a house just before 10 p.m. Wednesday night. It was one day before Katherine Aguasvivas was kidnapped in a separate crime. At the house, Orange County deputies said more than 100 10 mm shell casings were found. WESH2’s Tony Atkins personally saw more than 80 markers from just outside the house and crime scene. 

Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said the green Acura seen in the kidnapping video showing was the same vehicle Garcia and his company towed from an Orange County apartment complex at some point last month. 

Lemma also said rounds both in Garcia’s murder and where Aguasvivas’ body was found in Osceola County matched one another. 

“At the scene, there are more than 100 rounds, but a good percentage of those rounds on the ground are 10 mm, the gun used in the murder of our victim that we found burnt up in the vehicle in Osceola county,” Lemma said. 

At last check, the suspect or suspects in the Taft shooting are still on the run. 

Source: wesh.com

Florida Repo Driver Shot During Repossession 

Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source:curepossession.com

Decatur, Alabama Considering Banning Night Time Repos

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

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

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

Both incidents are galvanizing change.

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

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

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

Source: www.youtube.com
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