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brian991219

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brian991219 last won the day on August 7 2018

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About brian991219

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    1st Class Contributor

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  • Location
    Hawley, PA

Professional Infomation

  • Company
    Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC
  • WreckMaster Level
    4/5
  • TRAA NDCP Certification
    Level 2 Medium/Heavy Duty

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  1. Sad. It is bad enough we risk our lives road side, but a needless traffic crash. My thoughts are with this tower and their family.
  2. Chad, I will second that motion if you present it. We also need to speak to the representatives that are on the SAE towability committee as well as those on the individual truck manufacturer's advisory boards. This issue has been raised in the past with little success, however we are facing a crisis unparalleled in the tow industry with the loss of life and distracted driving at an all time high. It is time to address tower safety from many angles, and this is an important angle to address. As vehicle designs change, think of the introduction of all electric vehicles -many that will use individual drive motors at the wheel end or planetary drives like the city buses do- we need to find a universal accepted tow hook up procedure for lights, brakes and drive line disable features. Having universal front and rear attachment points for both lifting as well as the lights, brakes and a means of drive line disconnect would solve the towability issues for 80-90% of normal tows. Sure, after crashes, fires or other extraordinary circumstances towers would still be faced with difficult hookup procedures, but the typical daily tow would be so much easier and safer. This could even eliminate other damage claims, not just drive train damage claims.
  3. Happy to help Ron, just have to figure out what we want to say. I have long been a proponent of easier and more consistent tow hookups on all vehicles with a special focus on heavy duty. It baffles me why we do not have a simple drive line disconnect as well as universal air and electric hookups to make lights and brakes very simple. Again, to adopt from the military vehicles that already have this technology would seem simple. From my understanding of the manufacturing process this is not done mostly for cost. Given the economy of scale a simple $5 redesign sounds like a no-brainer, however multiply that by half a million vehicles per year and you can see why the manufacturers are reluctant to make these changes. Chad, glad to see you as a new member here. I am sure you will find this a very informative and useful forum for the industry. Thank you for your participation.
  4. Some vehicle owners are ignorant of the fact they can limp a flat tire off the highway to a wide spot or safer area. They also are ignorant to the fact that loading a vehicle with a flat to tow will not cause extra damage. This has been a pet peeve of mine since 1993 when a young couple were fatally injured because of a flat tire. The developed a flat and stopped in the right lane of I-84 at the NY/PA line on the bridge over the Delaware River. They were less than 3,000 feet past the last exit in NY and less than a mile to the first exit in PA. Instead they stopped in the travel lane on the bridge and attempted to change their own tire. This bridge is at the base of a mountain where large trucks frequently travel, has limited visibility from the direction they were travelling (west bound) and little options to avoid a stopped vehicle at that location. This accident scene was particularly bad, and to make matters worse I took a friend along for the call to clan up the crash because she had just started dating another friend that was a volunteer firefighter. She wanted to see what a scene was like, wrong scene to take her along to. Being much older and wiser I question ever bringing civilian along to a scene, but back then I wasn't thinking the same as I do today. I don't care if it will damage the wheel or vehicle, if it is an unsafe location I will not change the tire. My life, as well as that of the customer and other motorists that may be caught in the crash, is worth more than a wheel or tire repair.
  5. Randy, this is a perfect example of states having contradictory laws and regulations. While you are 100% correct about the application of CVC 25268, my graphic legend symbol shows my interpretation of California rules to permit a tow truck to use amber flashing lights while servicing a disabled vehicle or while moving slower that the usual flow of traffic, which is why we have the carrier and turtle symbols on the map. The carrier (perhaps it should have been a different symbol such as a stop sign or Park indicator to prevent confusion) represents stationary use only and the turtle represents an exception when slow moving. I take my understanding of these permissions from CVC 25253 as cited in the notes to the article. CVC 25253 reads as follows; (a) Tow trucks used to tow disabled vehicles shall be equipped with flashing amber warning lamps.  This subdivision does not apply to a tractor-trailer combination. (b) Tow trucks may display flashing amber warning lamps while providing service to a disabled vehicle.  A flashing amber warning lamp upon a tow truck may be displayed to the rear when the tow truck is towing a vehicle and moving at a speed slower than the normal flow of traffic. (c) A tow truck shall not display flashing amber warning lamps on a freeway except when an unusual traffic hazard or extreme hazard exists. I do like what you ask about a carrier driving at speed with it's beacons on, and I would agree that is a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the law. As for the "unusual traffic hazard" portion, that is a common theme in most state vehicle codes and is where most non-emergency vehicles draw their authority to use amber warning lights. While I understand the intent I wish it were more clearly defined in a uniform manner to stop the refuse trucks, snow plows and security vehicles from using amber beacons while on public property and not actually causing a unusual hazard. Due to the many different sections of law, regulation and revised statues across the country I have found many contradictory regulations within the same state's rules. Example, I have to correct my interpretation for Louisiana as the section of their Revised Statues I based my opinion on is superseded by another section of law I was unaware of, and that did not turn up in my research. As you know from your years researching and opining on legal matters, there often are regulations buried in areas that seem to have no bearing on the subject at hand. As always, I love the conversation and hope this stimulates the other members on this forum board to look into their local regulations for themselves and not just take my word for it! Can't wait to catch up in Atlantic City.
  6. Randy, again thank you for keeping this discussion lively. I believe we are in agreement about more of this than we may disagree on, if at all. As you are advocating for using the proper amount of lighting, so am I. I believe we are in desperate need of reformed emergency lighting laws for all emergency and roadside vehicles, not just tow trucks. To be perfectly clear - I do not advocate for using only your 4 way flashers when stationary. I also advocate for use of amber beacons when on the side of the road as a means to provide identification of the hazard that is present. I do not advocate for using amber (or any other color) flashing/strobe/rotating lights when in motion unless you are either required to by your state law or are presenting a serious hazard to traffic such as being over width, unable to maintain highway speed or other extra special circumstances. And, when you are required to display amber flashing lights do not turn on every strobe in the county, just display the minimum that will comply with local laws. There is absolutely no reason to have 8 amber and white strobes flashing in your grill, beacons overhead and your running lights pulsing while towing a car on your wheel lift or carrier deck! That said, until there is reform in the lighting regulations please comply with the applicable state laws. Your life, and possibly the financial future of your family depends on you doing your best to be safe and compliant with all regulations when performing your job. I think it is time to have a uniform tow truck standard regarding lighting patterns, usage and even retro reflective materials similar to that used by ambulances and fire apparatus. Even with the differences in color coding of lighting among the states there is little chance of not recognizing an ambulance or fire truck for what it is. Tow trucks deserve that same recognition. That said, the largest obstacle I see to this is the fact we are an industry of 35,000+ individual privately owned tow companies. We do not have a governing body that sets standards nor do we have any financial incentives to purchase vehicles with lighting that complies to a uniform standard even if we did. Most ambulances and fire apparatus comply voluntarily with federal lighting and retro reflective design standards so that they can be eligible for federal funding assistance on the purchase of the equipment. Now, regardless of the reason why they comply, the take away for towing is that we need to stop thinking about bling and how many strobes, button hole, or penny lights we can cram on a truck and start thinking about effective patterns and the ability to control this lighting in zones as well as intensity. If we as an industry could adopt a uniform lighting standard it would go a long way towards convincing legislators to give us permission to use colors other than amber in the states that currently can't.
  7. Randy, as always your input is valuable. You are defiantly the expert in California laws and how they are applied. When you and I have time I look forward to a full education on the spirit vs letter of the CVC as well as how it has been applied historically. To all readers, if you find something incorrect about your state, please bring it to my attention. I have already made adjustments to a few states and will make more after careful review of any updated, or contradictory, sections of code have been presented. I did my best to summarize 50 states vehicle codes into a few words to fit in the space allotted when this article first ran in American Towman. This article is best used with the accompanying graphic, which I will post in this thread for all to have access to. Now, as for the "moth to a flame" comment, please re-read my article. Randy I am in agreement with you that this is an undocumented effect. See the quote from the article below (bold and italics added for emphasis); "Numerous studies have indicated that motorists are often momentarily blinded or otherwise distracted by emergency warning lights. That’s not to say people are drawn to flashing lights like a moth to a flame, however emergency lights can create a hazard. It is accepted practice among law enforcement and fire departments to turn off most of their emergency lighting once on scene. Randy, I also have to ask one clarifying question. When you state " I believe that tow trucks should continue their use of emergency lighting as allowed by your state laws ... not four-way flashers as argued while a tow truck is stationary or moving", did you draw that conclusion from my article or is that in response to another movement within the towing industry that I am unaware of? I know many years ago the TRAA produced a roadside safety video that recommends exactly that, 4 way flashers only and although I see their point, I too disagree with it and nowhere in my article did I intend to imply using only 4 way flashers. Rather, when stationary at a scene, I am borrowing from the best practices and NFPA recommendations to reduce lighting while on scene to only lighting that faces the direction of travel in an effort to remove potential impairments to visibility or distractions to oncoming traffic. Same meaning as when I say to turn off you lower work lights if not needed so that when you tilt your bed up after loading you don't present a potentially blinding light facing traffic moving on your side of the road. As for my point in the article to turn off non-essential warning and other lighting while stationary, I drew that conclusion, in part, from the very study you cite in your comments. Specifically the Phoenix Fire Department study mentioned on page 63 as well as the USFA report "Effects of Warning Light Color and Intensity on Driver Vision" (SAE J595) Oct. 2008. Perhaps the editing process led to some confusion with what I was trying to say, as you know it is hard to convey a point in 1200-1500 words! As for using warning lights while in motion, of course I would never imply to disobey the vehicle code for the state(s) you operate in. That said, it is my personal opinion from nearly 30 years of dealing with various warning light practices as I have traveled all over the country, that towers should not be required to display warning lights (other than tow extension lights) while in tow with a vehicle (or on a carrier bed). If properly secured and a legal dimension load there is no greater hazard to the public than any other commercial motor vehicle, and therefore no need for extra warning lights such as amber beacons to be displayed while in motion. Further, it has been argued by many industry experts that the over use of amber warning beacons contributes to the public at large disregarding them, making them blend into the background "noise" and as such they have lost all effectiveness as warning lights. As always, I love a good discussion as this is how we all learn from each other. Thank you for the opportunity to have this discussion. EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that this graphic depicts Louisiana lighting requirements incorrectly. Louisiana allows display of amber beacons while in-tow with wheels on the ground. I have not been able to independently verify this as of today, 11/1/2019
  8. No state income tax in Tennessee either. Great state to retire in, but without mandatory training and certification there isn't much for a trainer to do except sit and watch the seasons go by.
  9. I believe this has become much more of an issue with the widespread use of the automatic transmission. So many rely on the transmission parking pawl to hold, something it is not designed to do alone, especially when applying the forces of winching or loading a vehicle. I miss the days when nearly every tow truck was equipped with a hydraulic brake line lock such as a Micro Lock in addition to the factory parking brake. That said, back then the issue was drivers relying on the Micro Lock to hold pressure without using the parking brake. We still have state safety inspections for all motor vehicles here in Pennsylvania and I am a state safety inspection mechanic. It amazes me how many vehicles come thru for inspection that the parking brake not only doesn't hold, it is frozen in place and unable to be activated! I noticed the same thing when running my auto transport company. It is common practice to drive the vehicles onto the trailer, set the parking brake and place the transmission in park or reverse gear (for manuals). Often the vehicle would not want to hold in place because the parking brake was inoperative, making it difficult to tie down and properly secure.
  10. Randy and Richard, Both great replies. I agree with your assessment Randy, most likely a DUI or at least attempting to flee before law enforcement happens along. Here in Pennsylvania we are not permitted by law to do a winch out without first notifying law enforcement of the call. Many towers still do and risk getting in trouble themselves. Our laws allow for a DUI even within the boundaries of private communities (home owners associations, apartment complexes, etc) or even in your own driveway. If for any reason we believe the vehicle was driven from a public roadway (including within gated private communities) we are to notify law enforcement and wait for their response or confirmation they are not responding before doing the winch out. So, obviously a U-Haul stuck in the mud trying to get close to the house or an old car in the backyard would not require a call to report, a car stuck on the side of someone's private driveway heading inward from the road would. It can be tricky deciding which calls to report and which to proceed with without notification to the police. Randy, this subject goes hand in hand with your other post about confrontational situations. It is important for towers o not be confrontational when responding to these calls because as Richard said in his post above, we have no idea how an intoxicated or agitated person will respond to being told we have to wait for law enforcement. My method of avoiding confrontation was usually to call law enforcement before I even responded when it was apparent they should be called (located on a public roadway for example) so that we could arrive on scene within minutes of each other. This has worked well for me over the years. As for being flagged down, I would engage the motorist and tell them I had to check in with my dispatch, then call law enforcement with them out of ear shot. If they deemed a response necessary I would stall the motorist until they arrived by collecting their info, payment details, doing a scene assessment and so on. I could really drag it out if needed. That said, we do have to be selective in how we proceed because once we begin to provide, or appear to provide service we become liable and complicit in the results of our actions as well as the actions of the stuck motorist. They will be perceived as our customer and as such our responsibility. Last thought, and perhaps the most important yet disturbing. Although we are not trained impairment recognition experts some courts have wanted to treat us as such. I am defending a case as the towing expert where a tower has been sued civilly because they released a vehicle to a person that then later killed someone with it in a DUI crash. So, if in doubt, pass on the call. The potential profit is not worth all the legal liability you may expose yourself and your company to.
  11. Awesome, glad to see innovative new ways to bring education to the industry. Keep up the good work.
  12. Although very difficult to do, I remain calm and even with my voice, try to give off a disarming body posture (without exposing myself more than needed) and plan for a quick exit or duck and cover should the situation escalate beyond control. Most people, even those acting in rage, just want to be heard. If you respond like you are listening instead of trying to match their force with your own agitation and aggressive body language you will usually diffuse the confrontation. I am not perfect and have not always been able to pull this off, but as I get older and it hurts too much to go fist to fist I have learned patience and peace go a long way. Deep and even breaths always calm me. Even when the other person is screaming and motioning violently, I try to focus on listening to understand (while looking for escape/cover) not just forming my verbal response before they have even finished. If you focus on what they are saying verbally, as well as their body language, you can remain calm and feel a bit more in control. If you let your mind wander into threatened/panic territory you will not be able to control your body language or other responses and will inflame the situation. I have had to remove myself from a few tense scenes, it is not cowardice to retreat. I conceal carry yet I have never once pulled a weapon on anybody and hope that I never have to. Pulling a weapon, whether a gun, bat, tire iron or other improvised piece will only serve to make the situation even worse. Unless you are 100% ready to kill the threat because you have no other option to escape never pull a weapon. The machismo of saying you will draw on them or hit them first so they can't hit you is not the professional solution. I remember as a young man accompanying my dad on tows and having a local competitor draw a gun on him to take a truck wreck from us. Back then scanner chasing was common, so was dialing your competitor from a pay phone and leaving it off the hook to keep their line tied up during snow storms and other peak times. Different world. Anyhow, this guy was threatening my dad with me right beside him, dad was carrying a .38 with a snub nose barrel and never once even reached for it. He simply smiled, walked backwards while holding my hand and climbed into his wrecker. I later asked him about that night and he explained that the profit from that one job was not work killing a man over, nor did he want to go to jail for it (even though it would have been self defense). He then repeated that lesson for me when we were running our Texaco station during the gas shortage and rationing period. Again, I was at work with dad and an irate commuter came in and used a gun to force dad to fill his tank when it wasn't his day for fuel. Again dad remained calm and simply pumped the gas with a smile, all while carrying his trusty .38 special. He never once had to use it but always had it, proving that you do not have to always meet force and anger with the same.
  13. Pick away my friend, pick away. Seriously though, yes there are trace amounts of many prohibited substances in many ordinary everyday items we consume. Typically the threshold levels in the intoxication tests or in this case DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements take that into consideration. I do not have any idea about the sesame seeds, that is a new one to me, however there is a consensus among athletic drug testing providers that poppy seeds may cause a false positive for opiates. They claim that depending on the source country and the processing method for the seeds there may be trace amounts of opium on the seeds. This may result in a detectable amount in the urine within a few hours of consumption and up to 72 hours later. That said, my breakfast of choice as a professional driver for the last 30 years has been ham and egg on an everything bagel (which includes poppy and sesame seed) and I have never returned a positive drug test result. I never refrained from eating my normal breakfast before any test either. In nearly 30 years I have only read reports of two false positives that were traced back to something the subject had ingested excluding prescription medicine that was not properly declared to the medical review officer. That is not to say it does not happen, just that in the course of my job duties I have only seen it twice over thousands of tests that I have been responsible for.
  14. This is the technology I have been waiting for. Once perfected it will allow for relaxing the rules on marijuana use and driving somewhat. Although I do not partake in using any chemical mood altering substance I do not hold it against those that do provided they are safe about it. Meaning, don't smoke weed and drive or report to work high. As a compliance consultant I am asked almost weekly about using marijuana derivatives and truck driving. Even some of the CBD oils on the market today that claim to be THC free still will result in a positive DOT drug test. This is because "THC free" in technical terms only means the concentration is below the federal prosecution limits, not exactly zero. I have witnessed many good drivers throw their careers away simply by using an over the counter CBD oil or other product then fail a DOT drug test. For this reason I can not advise anyone that is a professional driver to use any of these products until marijuana is removed from the federal list of prohibited substances for truck drivers. Although still a federally prohibited substance for commercial drivers, meaning no use including prescription medical or recreational, I see a day coming when marijuana use will be treated the same as alcohol use in trucking. There will be a prohibition of so many hours before coming on duty and not ever while on duty. By having a reliable intoxication test this is feasible. The problem with marijuana use and driving currently is there is no reliable way to tell if the THC present in the suspects body is causing a high or is just residual since it takes so long to clear out. A breathalyzer, if it can be calibrated to detect immediate usage and level of intoxication reliably will give us a means to allow off-duty use of marijuana and it's derivatives. Since this is becoming accepted by society we need a reliable way to determine intoxication. I think this machine will be a game changer if it proves to be reliable in the field.
  15. I would complete the request as best I could while insuring the dignity of the deceased is preserved. It surely would be one call I did not take photos of or post about later on social media, at least not with any specifics. I have been tasked with this twice in my career, once with a full body still in the vehicle and once with partial remains that could not be effectively removed at the scene. Both were evidence tows for different law enforcement agencies and completed under the direct supervision of an evidence technician per our contract requirements. On a third occasion, while working as a salvage transport driver for a large insurance salvage auction, I brought in a burnt Cadillac that still had partial remains in it. I was very disappointed in how the local police, fire and coroners office had handled the call, as was the tower that had the vehicle in their storage lot. There is no reason a vehicle should go to the salvage auction with partial human remains still inside, it is very disrespectful to the deceased. That said, oftentimes our job is to provide a service to our client not police the actions of others.
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