The Week's Features
Ornate graphics and Ben Franklin make for a colorful look
Towman gets cut off … by the improbable
Don’t waste time and a driver to deliver extra cable
New series capable of handling up to 37,500 lbs.
Submissions open until April 1; will be announced at Dallas event
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May 8-11, 2019
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August 15-17, 2019
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Dec. 4-8, 2019
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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
RATES
Portage, IN
$125
(Pop. 36,828)
Monrovia, CA
$180
(Pop. 36,590)
Bowling Green, OH
$95
(Pop. 30,028)
Panama City, FL
$87.50
(Pop. 36,484)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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Lug Nut Day: The Importance of Routine Training

Wreckmaster0027PartwayUp e21d7By Brian J. Riker

A few years ago I was reminded of the Ron White comedy routine that centers around a national tire chain's failure to properly reinstall one of his tires. While his presentation is quite funny, it is no laughing matter to anyone that runs a service center or does roadside tire changes.

A friend of mine was taken to court for damages that occurred after a wheel separated from a customer's car on the highway. Despite having clear video from the security camera in the garage showing the technician using a torque stick on their impact wrench while tightening the lug nuts—an industry-accepted practice—they were still found liable for damages to the tune of several thousand dollars.

Why?

The plaintiff was able to argue that despite all the precautions taken they failed to have routine training for their technicians on basic procedures. The shop could not produce a written certificate of completion for any routine training, nor could they show the technician had recently completed any outside continuing education or certification programs.

The unfair part of this is that this shop has done it right from day one. The owner firmly believes in proper training, has monthly safety meetings, routine training classes, requires ASE, I-CAR and other certifications for their technicians, WreckMaster and incident management training for their tow operators, even management classes for their office staff.

A simple piece of paper in a file would have saved them from the trouble and expense of a trial, or at least the judgement against them.

Shortly after this incident, the owner developed a method to provide routine training reminders, documenting compliance with internal and external education requirements. To prevent a recurrence, they decided on a mix of readily available industry-specific classes and internally developed classes tailored to their unique needs.

It is tough to find the time to conduct training without disrupting your daily operations, but the liability it removes from you is priceless. Routine training does not have to be complicated (there are many do-it-yourself options) nor does it have to be time-consuming. A few minutes weekly is all you need.

Many companies choose to outsource routine training, especially in areas such as environmental, industrial safety or OSHA. This content is easily delivered over the Internet allowing you to train when it is convenient without assembling the entire team in one location. You can even deliver training over in-cab communication systems to allow drivers to maximize downtime by completing continuing education while waiting for the next dispatch.

The bottom line is that you need to remind your team of the basics often, in a written and documentable manner, to keep from becoming complacent. A recertification test is a great way to remind someone just how much they have forgotten about a subject they are supposed to be an expert in.

True professionals practice the routine as well as the complex so that when it counts they don't have to think about the right thing to do because it is instinctual.

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 brian.riker@fleetcompliancesolutions.net
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Spare Cable for Recovery Scenarios

TowBusinessOperations cfe41By Randall C. Resch

Last month, I propped myself in a tow company's office chair, only to be entertained by the orchestrated chaos that was going on during an unexpected rainstorm.

The company's veteran dispatcher worked the phones, radios and computers with ease and grace like a maestro. The office beeped, honked and sounded common to a busy dispatch office and the dispatcher didn't miss a tick. She miracously had everything flowing smoothly, and then, in an instance, things changed.

Although calls were stacked creatively, everything was running seemingly perfect until the company's senior driver called to request extra cable. It seems that the tower was far from the company's facility and couldn't complete an off-road recovery. His tow truck's winch cable plus all the truck's chain was nearly 50' short of reaching the casualty.

When you're that far away from what you need, it's definitely an inconvenience that has to be solved. Things quickly turned to "robbing Peter to pay Paul" in trying to find an available driver to return to the shop, load up extra cable and get it delivered to the waiting driver.

To me, that's a huge waste of energy, resources and driver availability that could have been prevented by a little bit of pre-planning and minimal investment.

Spare Cable 101

Savvy tow owners prepare their trucks with extra lengths of wire rope that's neatly stowed in the tow truck's side boxes.

There may be an extra length of useable cable that was previously removed from one of your company's winches when it was readied for inspections. If the cable's condition wasn't too bad for winching purposes, it easily serves this re-purposing.

Here are two cable options that satisfy the dilemma of not being equipped with spare cable:

Option One: 50' to 100'

1. Take a spare, 14" tire from a small foreign car and separate the car tire from the rim. For spare-sized tires, a length of cable (up to 100') can neatly be wound inside the spare tire's diameter.

2. At the cable's non-hook end, have a proportionate sized, rated cable thimble, swaged to the cable's non-hook end; where the thimble will accept a standard-sized tow hook. This can be done by any local and reputable cable loft.

3. Wind the spare cable's entire length, loop end first, into the spare tire, and stow it at the bottom of a side box and in a location that's reachable to the tow operator.

Option Two: 50' or Less

1. Find a non-serviceable dolly tire that's lying around waiting to be re-purposed. Separate the dolly tire from its rim.

2. Take a 50' length of (prepared) cable and wind the cable inside of the dolly-tire, non-hook end first, until the entire length of cable is stowed inside the dolly tire's diameter.

3. In the same manner the 100' roll of cable was stowed in the tow truck's side box, the smaller 50' roll is positioned atop the 100-footer.

Finally, using a colored marking crayon mark the outside of each tire with the cable's length.

Stack, Store and Deploy

It's best to be equipped for those not-so-normal incidents, like when a police officer requests 35' of cable ... and it's actually 135'. When you're in a carrier, the extra length of cable makes perfect sense in hitting those difficult challenges head on.

I recommend that all wreckers, carriers and off-road trucks are minimally outfitted with two 100' lengths and two 50' lengths of extra wire rope, totaling 300' of additional cable that's ready to rock at a moment's notice. With spare cable neatly coiled, spare rounds are easily carried to the winch site where it's deployed as neatly as it stows.

(Note: I knew that the cable's hook was missing its safety clip in the above photo, but it was my only visual aid at the time this narrative was written. If you observed that the clip was missing, you go to the head of the class ... but the narrative still stands.)

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, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.
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