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Tow Safety

Dangerous Habits

Change Bad Behavior To Save Your Life

By Randall C. Resch

Operations Editor Randall C. Resch is a retired California police officer and veteran tow business owner, manager, consultant and trainer. He writes for TowIndustryWeek. com and American Towman, is a member of the International Towing &  Recovery Hall of Fame and recipient of the Dave Jones Leadership Award. Email Randy at rreschran@gmail.com.


he words “Bad Behavior”, directs focus in-welcoming 2021 as the New Year that commands a changed attitude of safety and survival. Fact: Working accidents and incidents, as a recovery expert ... it’s a dangerous proposition. The manner tower’s respond (and work) is the difference of survival or falling next victim to an already lengthy list of operator’s killed in the US and internationally. Since the wrecker’s invention, operator fatalities have reoccurred for better than one-hundred years. To date, since 1934, I’ve recorded as many as 984-operators killed “on-the-job” for all industry events. Specifically, 364-operators were killed working high-speed highways. AT reports a tower is killed every six days on average. So why do operators continuously put themselves in harm’s way and disregard proper training and techniques?


Especially true to working on-highway events, there are no, “routine calls.” The manner towers respond to highway calls should never be considered routine. Perhaps the message of survival and continued safety begins with a back to basic’s look at eight-categories to readdress how towers work the highways. Consider the following: Train to Survive: Highway training is different than basic load-and-go considerations. Operators serving highway environments must have complete understanding of the dangers high-speed highways represent. Part of new and weathered operator training must consist of TIM training with a Certificate of Completion in the tower’s file. Don’t Send New Towers: High-speed highways are no environment for new 14 • January 2021 | Towman.com

personnel. Tow owners have responsibility in-ensuring personnel are competently trained in on-highway response; to include time as a ride-along or trainer/trainee shadowing. Access and Equipment Set-up: Because there are differences in what niches tow companies serve, tow truck and carrier set-up is a tactical process. For companies serving highway environments, there’s a safety advantage in locating, storing and situating tow equipment. For best case scenarios, tow trucks and carriers should have tow and recovery equipment located away from the white-line side of the tow truck. By doing so, operators are afforded the most protection by remaining off the white-line side. Identify Your Presence: During arrival assessment, activate emergency overhead lighting to initiate SDMO response by approaching motorists. Towers should know allowable lighting requirements as not all states permit tow trucks to drive with emergency lights on in-traffic as they may not be considered “authorized” emergency vehicles. “Lights-on”, indicates that towers (in tow trucks and carriers) are actively involved in work activities. Unless you’re prohibited from using lights due to law or service patrol protocol, I advise using emergency lights. Should a DUI driver or motorist strike your tow truck leaving you injured or killed, having no lighting provides them a defense that they didn’t see the tow truck. When emergency lights are activated, tow operators are provided a level of protection, however slight, if a tow truck’s lights are “on” and visible. Remember, emergency lighting creates a false sense of security not to be relied upon.

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American Towman Magazine - January 2021  

American Towman Magazine - January 2021