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brian991219 last won the day on August 7 2018

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About brian991219

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    Participating Member

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  • Location
    Hawley, PA

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  • Company
    Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC
  • WreckMaster Level
  • TRAA NDCP Certification
    Level 2 Medium/Heavy Duty

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  1. I equate telematics and driver facing cameras to the same security measures we employ in the lot and office. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy, and as such there should be no reason not to have this technology in the truck. That said, I am also a realist and understand that the personality type attracted to driving, more so the long haul rather than vocational drivers, usually picks driving as a career because they desire to be left alone to do their job as they see fit. The problem with that is too many cut corners and ignore policy when they don't think they are being watched. As you said, if the driver is not doing anything against the law or policy they should be fine. In fact, I use this data to defend many more drivers than I use against drivers. It is so critical to me that I have these systems in all my personal vehicles, and even take a dual facing dash cam with me when I am delivering a sold truck or using a rental car. By the way, I have hundreds of hours of my off-key signing and extremely dry humor as I entertain myself on these long road trips if anyone is interested in a good laugh.
  2. Brian, that is a nice light display and not as over the top as some I see. I am one that subscribes to the less is more theory, never had that many strobes on my trucks and always had them switched in zones so I could turn off the lights that were not really needed. Funny I saw this today, I was driving thru a accident scene this morning in Oklahoma and the red/blue strobes, while attention grabbing, were so intense that I could not see. So imagine if it has that effect on a conscientious professional what will it do to the average motorist? By the way, I love that square body Chevy, wish I still had mine. Had a 78 and 86, really miss them.
  3. Randy, I do love when you play devil's advocate, as you always make a good point. I will stick to my previous opinions and reiterate that no one, and I truly mean no one is irreplaceable. If we fall into the trap of keeping a "bad apple" because they are a high producer, or worse yet the only help we can find, we will never be rid of the hindrances that come from poor company culture. We can not take the risk of keeping the policy violator, no matter how much we need the body in the seat or as you put it "getting the job done". Once we are aware the employee is not following policy, or worse yet law, we must take action or the liability for their wrongdoing falls squarely on our shoulders. This could cost a owner everything, as there is no more plausible deniability. That said, I still believe in the value of telematic data and strongly urge all towers to install and utilize the available technology. It has been my experience that although painful to let the top dog go, it usually relieves a lot of unspoken tensions within the company and everyone is better off. I had to make this critical decision many times, although the one that sticks out was when I had to let the heavy duty division manager and lead driver go. I felt bad, he had literally built the heavy division from the ground up by himself in 4.5 years, however that did not give him the right to go around me and contact a customer directly telling them that the driver I was dispatching was not up to the task. Although this is not the cell phone policy, it still was a serious black eye for the company and he was terminated immediately. Talk about tense, I had to watch him hastily clean out his truck so I could send the driver of my choice on the out of state job, and then give him a ride home, in a state where everyone conceal carries. I wasn't afraid, although it was uncomfortable to say the least. Funny thing is, now almost 10 years later, he and I are close friends and he understands why I did what I did that day. He even says it has made him rethink how he acts at his current job. Lastly, as for the days before this technology, well it is a double edged sword. The technology has definitely led to increases in distractions, some may even say the technology that is supposed to make vehicles and drivers safe is doing the opposite, and they may be right -I am still debating that point. As for policing our drivers in the days gone by, we used to have to invest significant time into trailing them, attempting to catch them doing something wrong or rely on sharp eyes friends to call up with the latest intel reports. Telematics really isn't any different, it is just must faster and usually more reliable than the old fashioned gumshoe methods of employee behavior monitoring. I will say, if you are a company owner that is a get it done at all costs, damn the torpedoes type then maybe having admissible evidence and documentation is not the right fit for your company. It would be ill advised to hand the enforcement officers or opposing council the evidence to hang yourself with!
  4. It is only unmanagable if you do not have the proper technology in place. This, among many other reasons, is why I am a strong proponent of driver facing cameras. Not to create a "nanny state", but rather to be able to properly defend my clients, including their drivers, should a critical event occur. A good fleet safety policy has multiple elements to it, some which are there simply to satisfy the regulators -such as the prohibition on hand-held use of cell phones and other electronics in commercial vehicles- as well as others that have a real impact on reducing safety critical events. Part of this fleet safety policy must include implementation and use of multiple types of safety technology. I have long been a supporter of gps based telematics, not only for the operational advantages they bring to the dispatch process (meaning you can be more productive and profitable), but also for the driver coaching data they provide. With the reduced cost and ready access to dash cams I have started recommending including them in the overall telematic package, the reason being is to be able to verify why there was a critical event recorded by a gps linked sensor. Often I find that the event was caused by a factor outside of the driver's control and the recorded hard brake or other event was a justified response to the threat. Now, before you say that a camera will not catch 100% of cell phone policy violations, I agree. However, it will catch the most egregious of violations, the ones that trigger a safety critical event because the driver was using, and most likely distracted by, their cell phone or other hand held device. There are other technological solutions as well, such as signal jammers, however they may not be legal in all states or situations. For this reason, I do not recommend blocking type technology, unless app based. And even then, forcing an app to be installed on employee owned devices as a condition of employment is a grey area, and water I would not wade into! Lastly, and this is an area many employers struggle with, for the cell phone policy to be enforcable it must be honored by both sides. You can not have a no cell phone policy then attempt to call your drivers on their cell phone, this sends a mixed message. So, if you rely on cell phones for communication you need to either tailor your policy to permit hands free usage (legal almost everywhere) or provide an alternative communication method in the cab of your trucks. I suggest having a hands-free policy and providing quality Bluetooth devices for your employees to use. This will encourage their use, meet the regulatory burden of having a policy but not providing the equipment to effectively implement it and may even improve overall employee retention if your employees see that you truly care about their health and safety.
  5. Randy, I would concur with your guess about being flat towed. Perhaps it was a company trying to self-rescue one of their own trucks, or a transporter doing driveaway/towaway work? Whatever the vocation, it is sad that someone lost their life in this event.
  6. I will be attending as well as presenting at least one, possibly two seminars. Right now I am confirmed to do a defensive driving for tow operators presentation and may also be doing a DOT compliance workshop like I have for the past two years.
  7. I will be there, not presenting at this one but rather attending to learn and network with friends. Looking forward to it as always.
  8. Yes I did, had a non-compliant name using a variation of WreckMaster, believe is was NEPAWM or something like that. Good memory Ron! We changed it to my current one using my WM ID number.
  9. Alive and well in northeastern Pennsylvania. Checked my old 411 account, appears I have only been a member since 2010, man I could swear it has been longer, more like since 2005 or 06. Either way, glad to still be part of the community.
  10. Very nice, love the thought that must have gone into making sure this truck is very versatile.
  11. As for not having the money for the "wildly expensive" systems, I challenge you to say that you can't afford to NOT have a good camera system. Yes, it is a sizable investment upfront but the savings you will realize due to reduced claims and better driving behaviors will more than pay for the cameras. First off, you will not find anything with quality in that price range, especially if it will be used by employees. The decent dash cameras in the $200 range all use sd cards and don't transmit data, so when something bad happens that the driver doesn't want you to see the camera magically failed to record the event. Even in my personal vehicles I have a dual facing (driver and road) dash camera that retails for $250, includes gps and speed data but does not transmit -it relies on a sd card. Good commercial grade cameras will cost $500 to $1,000 installed, plus $15-$30 per month per unit for service fees. This will allow for remote monitoring of events, forwarding the critical ones to you for further review. There are some less expensive solutions, although the lower the price the less features and less reliable they are. Now, if you want to try out a decent dash camera, this is the one I use in my personal vehicles as well as take with me when I deliver a sold unit to my customers (I sell and/or deliver sold tow trucks and car carriers). This is a very reliable and rugged camera, however it is a sd card based unit so your drivers can delete data they don't want you to see. You need to order the gps mount (sold separately) if you want the speed and location data, which I highly recommend to support traffic accident and ticket defense. Vantrue N2 Pro Dash Cam Preventing just one claim with a camera system can save you thousands of dollars in increased insurance premiums, or maybe even keep you from getting your insurance policy cancelled. Not to mention, when the drivers know they are being monitored and will be held accountable they change their driving habits which results in reduced maintenance costs as well as fuel savings. Driver Locate has some nice camera systems available, although they definitely are not in the $200 price range. Visit http://www.driverlocate.com for more info, or call Tommy at 815-725-4400. Below is the text of an article I published in Tow Industry Week back in February or March about event data recorders, including dash cameras and gps location trackers. I hope this helps you make up your mind on the value of these cameras. Not saying you are one of these folks, but I have seen fellas with $10,000 paint jobs and thousands in chrome say they can't afford these devices. Priorities! By Brian J. Riker Event data recorders are becoming standard equipment in many large fleets, yet they should have a place in every fleet. It isn't that we can't trust our drivers—we can—but we need to be able to defend their actions. Good drivers are valuable assets; as progressive employers, we must do everything we can to mentor, support and keep these folks employed. Video image is impartial. Video data with reliable GPS location, speed and acceleration data can paint a clear picture of responsibility—a picture that can save you thousands in false liability claims. How did your driver react? Were they paying attention? Did they do everything they could to avoid the collision? These are all questions that will be raised during an accident investigation. It is better to have concrete evidence on your side to support your position. What if your driver's performance is not up to par? Event data recorders are excellent coaching devices when paired with a competent, respectful and compassionate mentor. It costs several thousand dollars to hire and train a new employee, so why wouldn't you want to spend some of that money on retention and coaching? It is far less costly to coach an existing employee than to hire a new one ... who may have the same or even worse behaviors. Drivers, this technology is not for your boss to spy on you or babysit you. You are a professional; they know that. This technology is intended to make you even better—more professional—and to defend you from wrongful claims. It's "game-day footage:" the professional athletes review film of their actions looking for ways to improve, so should you. I have had a chance to use some of this technology to monitor my own behaviors. It was eye opening and has caused me to make several improvements in my own driving style. Wouldn't you rather have an employer that has your back rather than one that will fire you on the spot to appease their insurance company or some lawyer that is threatening legal action? Investing in training and mentoring of your team is a must-do. You will never have the best of the best if you do not coach your team to bring out their strengths. Savings also result from better driving behaviors: fuel use, out-of-route miles and wear items. Event data recorders and telematic devices can help you recover a stolen truck quickly. A recent news story told a tale of a thief that had all his actions captured on a dash camera as he went from stop to stop selling off tools from a stolen truck. This gave police the evidence they needed to prosecute him and the people that bought the stolen equipment. How about that customer that falsely accuses you of being rude or worse? What about being pulled over for speeding when you know you were going under the speed limit? A simple review of the video or check of the GPS data can put a stop to those allegations before they even get off the ground. Technology, when used properly, can save us all money and improve our performance. As we fall into a routine we tend to get sloppy. Event data recorders do not get tired or have a bad day, they are ever vigilant and will quickly remind us to be safe. Many systems have instant coaching capabilities, meaning they will sound an alert in the cab for following distance, cornering, braking or other safety critical events. Often these simple audible cues are all a driver needs to bring them back around to their best driving performance. Not every driver will be a fit for every company. This technology can help you make that determination long before a crash or series of citations makes the decision for you. I use this technology in my personal vehicles, both forward facing (out the windshield) and driver facing, complete with audio. Event data recorders and active driver coaching will give you an advantage over others that chose to keep doing things the old-fashioned way. If you deploy the technology, monitor the results and take action. 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
  12. I plan to walk it this year, was not prepared last year. No one, I repeat no one wants to see me run!
  13. You hit on a few of the issues, mainly the fact that the industry does not charge what are service are worth, as if we are afraid of losing the customer. Sadly, you are also orrect that some owners could care less about safety and generally both owners and employees feel like it won't happen to them. I am not again OSHA doing their job, we need someone to force most owners into thinking about safety, it is just that they have also "kicked the can" down the road by passing the responsibility of tow operator safety to other Federal Agencies, which are not really experts in workplace safety. Now, ideally rather than a Federal Agency, I would like to see a voluntary compliance board of sorts, like ISO 9001 that manufacturers have but for and governed by, towing industry stakeholders. Being "board certified" would open access to law enforcement contracts -real contracts not just the current tow list model- as well as other work. I want to make it so towers that are not board certified would not be able to work on the highways, period. Same for mobile mechanics, tire shops and anyone else servicing motor vehicles roadside. It is frustrating that most company training is exactly as you described, more about invoicing and paperwork to assure payment than safe working procedures. When towers do train, and this is not a knock again any of the industry trainers, the focus training on whiz bang procedures for complex recovery not stuff that will keep an employee alive every day. The safety part seems to be ignored by the attendees as well, not just worksite safety but even safe capacities of equipment. I can't tell you how many seasoned operators I speak to that have no clue what the actual ratings are on their truck. Perhaps the most common is winch capacity, many veteran heavy drivers wholeheartedly believe they have 50 ton winches on their 50 ton wrecker! I have even caught major manufacturers exceeding safe working capacities or incorrectly using rigging during live demos, not so much recently but it has happened. These are the folks that are leaders in the industry, and if they don't care then why should the rest of the industry?
  14. Randy, I don't have a theory yet on why, other than traffic density, are the highest tow operator struck-by incidents in the states that have strict mandates for safety training (TX and CA)? What reasons do you think may be the cause for this phenomenon? I do agree that all service providers that work within the public right-of-way, which includes the highways, back roads and even parking lots open to traffic should have mandatory safety training in all 50 states. This is an area where the FHWA could easily make it happen, they already mandate so much other workplace safety within the right-of-way of all Federally funded roadways. This is the reason why OSHA is not all over roadside injuries, yet, as they have deffered jurisdiction for workplace safety to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). On a side bar, the FMCSA has almost zero workplace safety regulations in place other than occupant restraint, sleeper berth and exposure to noxious fumes. Perhaps FMCSA could step in if FHWA does not and require a tow truck endorsement, something similar to what New York State already requires. The testing could cover basic roadside safety, there is a new entry level driver training program going into effect in January 2020, it would be easy to add a few curriculum pieces for a tow truck endorsement, they already have minimum requirements for all the other endorsements coming in January. Make it so that you must have a CDL-C as a minimum to operate any tow truck or carrier, again taking pointers from New York, and make the renewal dependent on continuing education and retesting, similar to the haz-mat endorsement. We, as an industry, want to be recognized as professionals, we need uniform license and training/certification standards nationwide and an almost 100% industry acceptance rate of safe working procedures, otherwise we will always be looked at as second class highway janitors. Another safety side bar, I have always found it ridiculous that the difference between a CDL vehicle and a non-CDL vehicle has nothing to do with the Federal definition of a commercial vehicle, which is any vehicle with a gross weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds in interstate commerce, yet a "commercial vehicle" for CDL purposes is at 26,001 pounds or greater. Why not require a CDL-C for any commercial vehicle, it will eliminate many of the piss poor drivers that are driving non-CDL trucks because they can't get or keep a CDL.
  15. Great questions, and even with the media available such as American Towman, Tow Times, Tow Force, even Facebook we still are not reaching the majority of the estimated 200,000 towing operators in the United States. I believe the number is around 35,000 towing companies, so it is not an unmanageable population to get notifications out to. My only concern, as it was presented to me by an OSHA official when discussing their involvement in the towing industry, they feel we have done a good job of publicizing tow operator deaths, so much so that they are now aware of the high loss of life and are investigating. While I personally believe that having the dangers of our job exposed to the general public may help our cause for safety, we must be prepared for the regulations it will also bring down on us. This needs to be a wide spread dialogue between owners, operators, customers and third party entities such as motor clubs and law enforcement. It is sad when law enforcement and fire/ems don't even know how many towers are injured or killed roadside each year, and they are exposed to us daily! I have had many an enlightening conversation with law enforcement about the dangers of working roadside, some don't see any danger at all, others never thought of the towers. I have to agree with an earlier post, it is sad, actually disappointing almost to the level it is maddening, that we can get hundreds of towers to sit in an arena and watch a flashy rotator demo but can't get but 30 towers to attend a safety themed class without twisting their arm to be there. I don't have statistics, just personal observations, but I don't see participation in TIM or SHRP2 training unless the program is a mandated part of a tower's law enforcement contract, otherwise maybe 10% of the towers in a given area participate when it is voluntary. This is a FREE program, all it costs you is 4 hours to complete, yet few bother.
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