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Rolled-over tanker calls for Hawk’s “Bad Behavior” and more
Extends exemptions for heavy-duty vehicles
Settles alleged illegal repo of two servicemen
Series is the exclusive transmissions for International CV Series
Company’s “billboard and image” roams the expansive West
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With the rampant increase in distracted driving towers need every advantage available to avoid costly accidents. Tow Industry Week Business Editor Brian J. Riker gives a presentation on the dynamic nature of tow trucks when loaded v. empty, following distance and other traffic hazards surely could help prevent some crashes. Join him for his seminar, “Defensive Driving/Driving Professionalism,” during Tow Industry Week, taking place at the American Towman ShowPlace, May 8-11 at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingMarch 20 - March 26, 2019

City, State
Plantsville, CT
(Pop. 10,387)
Beeville, TX
(Pop. 13,290)
Lake Station, IN
(Pop. 12,572)
Centralia, WA
(Pop. 16,336)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.

'You Broke My Windshield'

windshieldsharp 561bcBy Randall C. Resch

It's one of those motorist-initiated complaints that's a regular occurrence in Towland: It starts when your business office receives an angry call that one of your company's trucks kicked-up or dropped a rock in the path of a vehicle, breaking its windshield. When those claims happen, you'll most likely have to deal with the caller who's either making the story up or may have a valid claim.

How you handle their claim can be the difference between you losing in small claims, or being able to win over made-up accusations.

First, know your state's vehicle code. When you know specific wording of the vehicle code, you can smell the caller's motive for the claim. In damage claims, the plaintiff suing you has the burden of proof. I recommend you take their claim and get their details to keep out of the hot seat with any law enforcement contracts.

Handle their complaint with calm. Be polite, as your behavior will ultimately come up in court, via some BBB inquiry or website review. Remember, liars can't tell the same story twice; a written and signed claim is your best evidence for a later time.

Here's an example of a laughable windshield damage clam:

Female caller: "I was following one of your flatbed trucks and I saw a small, grey nut come off the back. It bounced once on the ground and then hit my windshield."

My response: Yes, ma'am, I'll take your claim. Will you come to our office to sign a damage form?
I can't come to your office; it's not convenient for me.

Can you identify the tow truck by license plate?
I couldn't see the driver from where I was.

Can you identify the driver?
I couldn't see the driver from where I was.

What color hair did the driver have?
The driver maybe had dark hair.

How close were you following and at what speed?
I was going the speed limit a couple of car lengths back.

What is the truck's number? (Which is posted on all trucks.)
I didn't see any number on the truck.

How did you get our company number?
I got into the next lane and read the company's name.

Describe the object
It was a small, grey nut that came from the bed, bounced before me and into my window; I saw it hit.

Why didn't you call at the moment this occurred?
I was on the way to meet my mom.

Is your vehicle insured? If so, can you provide proof?
(No response.)

Long story short, the caller indicated she couldn't identify the driver, the tow truck or any of its clearly mounted numbers. By asking the questions above, I satisfied taking her claim; but told her she didn't prove any alleged object came from our truck. She couldn't prove any facts or details, but she could clearly identify a small, grey moving nut while traveling at freeway speeds in clear daylight.

The windshield game is one that tow companies play. Generally, if you stick to your guns they'll go away, but not after you take the time to play the entire game. Yeah, she later filed a small claim suit; but, lost when she lied to the judge about not having insurance. Perhaps not telling the truth was her demise: We didn't pay for her windshield.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, and is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame.

Stop Bitchin’—Start Doin’!

Capitol-pic-600x400 copy 28945Brian J. Riker

Are you sick and tired of things happening to you rather than controlling your own destiny? I know I am. Quit bitching about it and do something; it really is that simple.

I attended the Towing and Recovery Association of America's Legislative Action Day event this past week. The title is really a misnomer, as we were in Washington, D.C. for the better part of last week hosting or attending meetings with legislators and regulators. We did something and made a difference.

I had a chance to participate in a conversation with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's No. 1 person, Administrator Ray Martinez. What a guy, really one of the easiest people to speak with. He truly is interested in what we have to say and sympathetic to our plight. He was just one of many officials TRAA had a chance to influence.

He assured me and the industry that our requests for flexibility in Hours of Service have not fallen on deaf ears.

Although not at liberty to release anything further publicly, his office is in the process of reworking HOS regulations in a way that should be beneficial to many small motor carriers like the average tower.

Another great guest speaker was Rep. James P. McGovern (D-MA). McGovern comes from a working class family in Massachusetts, first elected to the House in 1996. He is supportive of our industry and gave the audience some sage advice on getting favorable legislation passed.

McGovern strongly advised towers to come prepared when they meet with their legislative representatives. Don't come in with a complaint without offering at least a few viable solutions. It is best to come prepared with a focused topic and supporting documentation, including proposed regulatory or legislative language. Give the lawmaker a ready-to-implement solution that is fair to all parties involved.

Roadside safety was also a hot topic with Federal Highway Administration's SHRP2 Program Manager James Austrich presenting to the group about roadside worker safety.

From Jan. 1 to March 8 this year, there have already been 26 reported roadside fatalities, 10 of which were towers. Austrich called these "struck-by" incidents a phenomenon of epidemic proportions. Although Traffic Incident Management training has gained widespread acceptance in its seventh year with nearly 400,000 roadside personnel trained, it is not enough.

Austrich said FHWA needs data to support better solutions for roadside safety, calling for towers to self-report near-miss and struck-by incidents to the Towing Traffic Incident Reporting System. The TTIRS, created in 2015, collects data that is used to support funding requests for training, support of the slow down move over laws as well as support for public awareness campaigns.

Although the current data is useful, it will be much more powerful when more of the near-miss and struck-by events are recorded.

Legislative Action Day was a success. As an industry we have come a long way; however we have even further to go. Now is the time to speak up and become involved. Our industry is under attack from all sides, most notably from the insurance and trucking industries. They have well-funded lobbyists, political action committees and various other resources we can only dream of at the moment.

Now is the time to get things done politically—and I mean right now. Congress is in session, bills are being introduced daily and it is before the appropriations process. If you don't get your legislation into the hands of the correct committees right now there is no chance it will make it into law this year.

The process requires review on several levels with perhaps the most important being the appropriations level. If they can't pay for it, they won't enact it!

Unfortunately, there are still several states without a towing association. There are also a few where the towing association is simply a committee within the trucking association.

We have so little self-respect that we can't find the time or common ground among fellow towers to band together. Since we are all in this together, we need to learn to work together for the common good of the industry. There is strength in numbers. This is your call to action. Will you do something ... or just stand there bitching when the world changes around you?

Brian J. Riker is a third-generation towman and president of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC. He specializes in helping non-traditional fleets such as towing, repossession, and construction companies navigate the complex world of Federal and State transportation regulatory compliance. With 25 years of experience in the ditch as a tow operator Brian truly understands the unique needs and challenges faced by towing companies today. He can be reached at
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WreckMaster President Justin Cruse said that the WreckMaster Convention will bring together towers from all over North America to provide a unique and beneficial opportunity to broaden knowledge.
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