Provide Advanced Emergency Notice: Drivers (in all states) have slow-down and move-over responsibilities when nearing a tow truck’s location. “Being seen”, is a key component to survival. A common, associated factor typically written in post-accident investigations, OSHA and NIOSH investigators recommended that, “Operator should employ triangles, flares, traffic cones and proper lighting.”
Don’t allow that big ego or too much macho to cloud the way you work. An errant motorist cares nothing about who you are. Training and experience means nothing to them. Towers shouldn’t be reminded, “Don’t walk in the street.” While I understand that sometimes, towers need to work the white-line side; a conscious decision is necessary to determine what techniques should be applied to work away from always-present dangers.
Deadly exposure is something
towers of all ages and experience levels are guilty of. While a common excuse from tow operators is, “They take too long to set up and take down”, I agree they don’t provide physical safety, but, “advanced warning” announces the presence of tow trucks at-work. Not using triangles, flares or cones is a step operators regularly side-step; generally out of laziness. Work Off the Whiteline: Especially true to carrier operations, a large percentage of operator strikes occurred when the operator was standing, walking, or working at the traffic-side controls. Obviously, the traffic side is the primary location towers are struck. Modern carriers are equipped with twin-side control stations, so, work away from white-line traffic. A remote control is highly recommended. Keep Out of Traffic Lanes: Perhaps the most ignored classification operators fail to understand, no matter what age, level of experience, new driver, or company owner, towers repeatedly place themselves in harm’s way. 16 • January 2021 | Towman.com
Exit and enter the tow truck’s cab by using the “Peek a Boo” technique. Walk forward and around the tow truck’s front, look back at approaching traffic, and when safe, make that maddash to safety when there’s a clear opening. Law Enforcement Assistance: Another misused topic of contention; whether-or-not towers should call for law enforcement assistance, especially the state’s highway patrol. Example: A Wisconsin tow operator, working in freeway service patrol capacity, reportedly came upon debris in highway lanes. In his actions to remove the debris, he was struck by a semi-truck and killed. There are many dangerous scenarios like debris removal, stalled vehicles in-lanes, vehicles stopped on narrow shoulders, or, perhaps parked in “Gore-Points”. Each of these scenarios requires highway patrol assistance. I submit, “When towers know situations are monstrously deadly;
why not request highway patrol for assistance?
HERE’S THE REALITY
In the one-hundred plus years since the wrecker’s invention, highway fatalities have risen steadily especially due to the on-set of cellphones, distracted driving, DUI motorists and legalization of medical marijuana. In all reality, these influences aren’t going away. Tow operators still actively stand and work traffic-side controls loading vehicles on highway shoulders. Perhaps it’s that, “It won’t happen to me”, mentality, towers repeatedly and consistently put themselves in harm’s way. To that point, experienced towers make-up a greater percentage of working white-line events. Deadly exposure is something towers of all ages and experience levels are guilty of. When news accounts comment, “He was an experienced tower with thirtyyear’s experience”, I’m infuriated at that inaccurate observation because the tower (his/herself) “chose” to be on the white-line side. Safety is an individual endeavor that can’t be ignored. Personally, whenever I’ve stepped into a highway’s environment, my anxiety level increases a hundredfold. In that, I extend to all towers, an invitation for you to re-evaluate your individual safety presence. I sadly watch towers doing the same thing in making the same bad decisions again and again. It’s a tower’s choice to consciously recognize and change bad habits. But, in all reality, it’s with sad recognition that towers will lose their lives because they failed to heed the value of lessons learned. But, on the other hand, are you smart enough to realize it’s time to change your own bad behavior?