are elected to represent the best interests of the majority of their constituents, so the more members an association has the more influence it has with lawmakers. For our industry this means we have some powerful opponents with well oiled lobbyist machines, many active members and deep connections with lawmakers on both the state and national level. When our opponents mention our industry they quickly point to the lack of participation among business owners and employees within our associations as a sign that our industry is fragmented. Lawmakers see the fragmented nature of our industry as weakness, after all if we can’t agree among ourselves as to the best direction for our industry why should they care what a small association thinks? Alone none of us can make any real change, together we are unstoppable. I have had some criticism about asking towers to join their state and national association during these trying times, and I understand how limited some folks financial resources are, but what will bad legislation cost your business? Association dues are a small price to pay to have a say in the future of our industry, to help shape the rules we all must adhere to and even provide opportunities to thrive during these uncertain times. Even if you can’t afford the dues it doesn’t cost anything to write letters to your lawmakers or make phone calls to voice an opinion on an issue. What are the national issues that could affect towers this coming legislative season? There are many issues on the table this year that although not towing specific will have a profound impact on many towers operations. Since towing 16 • February 2021 | Towman.com
is a subsegment of the trucking industry we often are lumped into one size fits all trucking focused regulations that make no sense for our businesses. A recent example of this, that we lost, was the push for electronic logging devices. Towers, especially heavy duty towers, have had to install these devices in their trucks to remain compliant with regulations that are really intended for long haul trucking more than towing. In this upcoming legislative season I expect to see a renewed push for requiring speed limiters to be installed in all commercial trucks, which will include tow trucks, set to 65 MPH. TRAA, among many other groups, opposes this regulation on the grounds of safety. Imagine the speed differential issues that will be created if all trucks are limited to 65 MPH while cars can zoom by at 70+ MPH. It will become near impossible for heavy trucks to operate in any lane other than the rightmost lane, which will cause problems complying with the slow down move over laws among other safety issues. Other issues I am monitoring and expect to see addressed on a national level include a renewed push for increased minimum insurance levels, specifically a near 4x increase, push for front, rear and side impact underride guards that will add unknown expense and complexity to our equipment and size/weight limit changes for towing. There are also concerns about driver training, changing CDL regulations and more tweaks to the hours of service that could affect towers. Among the CDL changes is a push to change the rules regarding interstate commerce and drivers under the age of 21. Currently our industry loses many interested and otherwise qualified candidates to
the minimum age requirement, oftentimes even our own family members. With the FMCSA taking comments on a proposed pilot program to assess the safety of under 21 year old drivers, as well as having a current pilot program to assess under 21 year olds with prior military driving experience, it is critical to advocate for support of these programs that could lead to relief for the shortage of operators that the industry currently faces. As an industry, and country, we are in desperate need of leadership and unification for a common good. Our industry needs to hear the voices of all towers, big and small, to determine the direction that is best for us as a whole. The only way to accomplish this is to have towers speak up, join together and make their positions known. The best way to do this is by joining industry associations, attending trade events and speaking directly to your legislators on issues that are important. I often hear that the associations only represent the interests of the big companies and that they decide what is going to happen anyway so why should I get involved. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I am involved with associations in several states as well as the national association and their membership comes from companies of all sizes, as do the members that make up the various committees I sit on. I often speak with, and advocate for, towers that have only a handful of employees up to companies with hundreds of team members. We all face the same basic issues, large or small, and together we can make a difference. Bottom line, if you don’t get involved then you don’t get to complain about how the new regulations and laws affect your business and your family.