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brian991219 last won the day on August 7 2018

brian991219 had the most liked content!

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. brian991219

    Police Officers and their Vehicles struck

    I have often wondered the same thing, not just with traffic stop contact but also motor carrier enforcement. In several states motor carrier enforcement does not take place in relatively safe locations such as weigh stations or rest areas, rather it is conducted on the shoulder of the highway. The MCE officer initiates a traffic stop and completes their inspection with traffic whizzing by -endangering himself as well as the trucker, for a simple safety inspection. I have been inspected in this manner several times throughout the course of my driving career, each time suggesting we move the inspection to a nearby place of safety, often visible from where the stop occurred, and each time I was rebuffed with attitude. I realize some drivers could use the opportunity to destroy evidence or alter conditions while cruising to a safer place, but most will not, and the safety of the officer, motorist and all other roadway users far outweigh any chance of this.
  2. I am a big supporter of the ride alongs in tractor trailers and such. Here in Pennsylvania we have Operation Yellow Jacket, where State Troopers ride in PennDOT dump trucks and cite violators for cell phone, speed and other work zone violations. I would like to see these programs expanded as well. The cameras have come a long way. With the move over camera being tested in Ohio, their law requires an officer review the video before a citation can be issued, the camera company sends 15 second clips showing the offending vehicle, the lanes (to prove they had ability to move over). It also clearly shows the driver's face, or they don't submit it. It also shows the trucks lights were on, basically all the evidence a officer and a judge needs for a solid conviction. As for solid citations, nothing bugs me more than states like New York. They have mandatory pre-trial conferences with the DA and automatically offer plea bargains, causing many solid convictions to be lost and the real issues around roadway safety (motorist behaviors) to not be properly documented.
  3. As you know, I fully agree with your views on this topic. Revenue from convictions should go back to enforcement and other community benefit campaigns rather than the general fund. This is a nearly perfect way to fund special projects as well as general enforcement improvements, if we can get past the anti-police groups. One of my new favorite experiments is the slow down move over camera system. It is legal in Ohio already and under development for other areas. The camera provider makes the equipment available at no cost to the law enforcement agency, and with agency sponsorship they can be installed on tow trucks. Like speed and red light cameras they get a portion of the fine revenue, the law enforcement agency gets a portion but the majority is earmarked for safety programs. I would love to see these roll out nationwide and be required equipment on all highway tow equipment with the proceeds supporting blocker service and other developments. Sadly, a few bad apples have spoiled it for the well intentioned officers. Example, speed trap towns and other "Roscoe P Coltraine" type of enforcement. I have faith in the enforcement community as a whole so I have no problem with your concept, if there are some checks put into place to assure deceptive practices are not used.
  4. I suppose it could price a few more out of the insurance market. Good point. There has to be a solution to driving without insurance, however I have no idea what could be done that would not break the resources of law enforcement. We know they are already overburdened and don't have the time to check and enforce insurance on every vehicle they may make contact with. Perhaps as license plates become interactive with telematics, a proposal suggested to enforce/collect new road use fees such as vehicle miles traveled taxes (to replace fuel taxes), there could be real time enforcement of cancelled or suspended insurance. The problem with telematics is the infringement on freedom and privacy, both strong issues that I would not be happy with giving up. Really, I have no idea how to solve the issue at hand, although I know for sure passing on the cost to towers for recovering and storing stolen vehicles is not the solution.
  5. brian991219

    Tow411/TowForce Login & Member Roll Call

    Brian Riker from Hawley, PA. Third generation towman going on 28 years in the industry, more if you count the time as a young boy in the shop and helping with the wreckers. I have operated most trucks from shop built to the most modern of rotators. My career began on a Holmes 440 sling truck and my last tow truck was a Century 1130 rotator. Currently I am the owner of Fleet Compliance Solutions, a DOT/OSHA compliance consulting firm focused on the towing and auto transport industry. A former tow business and small transport fleet owner I still operate trucks when the opportunity presents itself. I also provide sales and support for Jerr-Dan, Landoll and Cottrell through Worldwide Equipment Sales and am the Tow Business Editor for Tow Industry Week as well as a regular contributor to American Towman Magazine and their Tow Expo conference series. I am a WreckMaster 4/5 (expired), current TRAA Certified Level 2 Master Tower, Wes Wilburn light, medium, heavy, advance recovery and rotator (expired) and Crane Tech qualified rigger. Additionally, I have completed many OSHA courses including an OSHA 30 and audit class. I hold a valid class A CDL with all available endorsements. I participate in many towing associations as a compliance specialist, am a Associate Member of TRAA, sit on the LAN Committee at TRAA and was heavily involved in the start up of the Independent Auto Transporters Alliance, a trade group for independent (small) car hauler companies. Thank you for this great resource.
  6. I agree that the tower should not be subsidizing these theft recoveries. If the legislators want it to be "free" to the victim, they need to direct a fund to compensate the tower for their service. This can be done as Randy suggests through the crime victim fund, or perhaps have the insurance commissioner change the insurance regulations to require the underwriter to cover their insured liability in these cases. Now, without theft insurance the victim is on their own, but that is the risk they take not having insurance. In this particular example, Marion County, IN (Indianapolis) the impound is a city owned facility managed by Auto Return, so if the city is willing to waive the first 7 days of storage it is their own revenue they are losing. As I understand the process, currently the tower is paid upon dropping the vehicle at the facility, so as long as the city still pays for the tow they ordered I am ok with them waiving their own fees. To force this upon independent storage operators would be awful. To play devils advocate, the property protection services provided after a fire or other loss to a home re all billed for, and absent fire insurance the property owner would be liable for the fee, so why should owning a vehicle be any different? Perhaps this opens a discussion to change how motor vehicle liability insurance is produced in the US. Maybe we should include theft and accident recovery fees in the definition of basic liability, a level of coverage mandated by law in every state. Yes, insurance premiums would rise a bit for all, however in the end the tower would be paid for their services every time, or almost every time. Combine this with real penalties, such as withholding driver license or registration privileges for owners that fail to maintain appropriate coverage or pay the towing fees, we could see real change in the profit margin in our industry.
  7. Unfortunately this type of crash highlights why changing the color of lights on a tow truck will be marginally effective at best. Sure, sober drivers will give more respect, but they are only a small part of the problem to begin with. The only way to really protect ourselves at roadside is a crash barrier truck or other similar technology. I am glad the tower and Trooper are no seriously injured.
  8. You can, if they are compliant with the lighting standards for your class of vehicle. The biggest difference between car and truck lights is the built in reflectors. There are conspicuity and reflective requirements for commercial vehicles that have been integrated into the use of certain types of tail lights. Here is a link to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations regarding lighting on commercial motor vehicles FMCSA Truck Lighting Regulations They reference the FMVSS 108, which can be found at this link FMVSS Standard 108 Lighting Between these two sections of code you can find all the information needed to build your own rear tail light assemblies that are both stylish as well as compliant. Please make sure any device you use is clearly marked DOT, both lens as well as reflective tape or other reflective device, otherwise at roadside inspection an officer may declare it unfit.
  9. brian991219

    crash avoidance system

    Each model is different, and depending on programming they may not be able to be disabled. Many fleets are setting them up this way to prevent the driver from bypassing the system they paid extra for. Typically these systems only stay disabled for a short period of time, some for just a few minutes to let you get thru a work zone, others will stay off until you cycle the key on/off. To permanently disable the feature would require a trip to the dealer, and may not be permitted by the manufacturer.
  10. brian991219

    City Plans To Rein In Racing Tow Truck Drivers (PA)

    It is a double edged sword here in Pennsylvania. As an industry we have very little in the way of regulation on the state level, a few cities have some tow regulations, but for the most part we are left to our own. This leads to chasing and some unscrupulous business practices, which we all pay for in the end. In 2019 I find it hard to believe, yet chasing happens all across the country still. I was a victim of this back in the late 90's, I would not chase wrecks but my nearest competitor did, even went as far as joining the fire department just so he could respond with his wrecker to the crash and get a business card to the driver before the PSP arrived, allowing him to make it an owners request. I am not against towers volunteering with the fire department, I encourage it (will have an article on this in the April issue of American Towman), I just don't like it when it is used to get around the rotation system. Glad to see Pittsburgh is finally doing something, all I can say is what took them so long?
  11. brian991219

    A Picture Posted on Facebook

    I see it could be a memorial, sure. The cross is a common memorial symbol and you will find them all across America at roadside memorials for crash victims and other roadway deaths. It would look more appealing, and more like a memorial, if there were flowers, landscaping or a plaque. Perhaps there is and it is not visible in the image? As for the comments, that is what is to be expected today. Sadly the internet has opened up an avenue for people's natural disrespect to flow freely without fear of consequence. The disrespect has always been present in a portion of society, although the fear of a good ole' arse-whooping used to keep most people from running their mouth. Not true among keyboard warriors today. The disrespect shown is typical from someone that feels towers are not important. Perhaps they had a bad experience in the past or only know of our industry from tv shows like Lizard Lick or Operation Repo. Many truckers as well as city dwellers (especially those that have never owned a car) have this type of opinion about the towing industry and those that work in it. Many city dwellers think of tow-away or impound towing long before they thing of roadside assistance, truckers tend to think of accident recovery before they make the connection to other more servant like segments of our industry. Sadly, it could even come from a tow operator that has such a low opinion of themselves or the industry that they are lashing out at anyone trying to improve our reputation and public perception. My last statement, and this will incite some, is they are not entirely incorrect. Although it is tragic that we lose so many towers, and many deaths are not the direct fault of the deceased, some of those we have chosen to memorialize are simply industrial accidents. Accidents that the deceased own negligence contributed to. Whether it be failure to use required safety harnesses to prevent falls, carelessly stepping into traffic or being crushed by an improperly supported load these are industrial accidents. We don't have to agree with their opinion but they are entitled to it in America. Now, that said, since most of us in the towing industry are trying to emulate our brothers and sisters in the fire/ems/police services we have chosen to not make the distinction between fault and simply have chosen as an industry to honor the fallen operator's service and dedication to public service. I was of the opinion that only true accidents, where the tower did not in any way contribute to their death, belonged on the Wall of the Fallen, however a heartfelt conversation with a friend (who will read this but will remain nameless) changed my view on who should be memorialized.
  12. brian991219

    Re: Snow Ban

    Never! As a tower in the northeast I worked my fair share of snow events these past three decades. When I was young, possibly dumber although the jury is still out on that, it was normal to go around the clock for days on end clearing vehicles from the roadway. On top of that we also did snow removal, so when we were not towing we were plowing and sanding. 36 or more hours without a break was common in my twenties. I had way too many close calls that, looking back, were directly attributable to my fatigue level. Driving past my exit on the highway and not being able to recall where I was or how I got there was a normal occurrence during snow events. This type of clouded judgement leads to injury or death very easily. The only place fatigue trumps over caution, and this is even debatable, is when life safety is on the line. Removing a disabled vehicle that is preventing access for fire or ems service or other situations like that, responding to a rescue assistance request, those warrant a little more risk on the part of the tower, within reason. As harsh as it sounds, remember you are not the one that put that person in jeopardy, you will be of no use to anyone if you are injured or killed, so your safety (and those around you) must be a priority in all decisions. Should we decide to place earnings above safety for a snow event what is next? Profit before safety for a motorist willing to pay extra for a tire change in an unsafe location, or placing your body in harms way just because it pays extra? I don't think so. I will say, although I like the concept of providing rest for the towers, I do not understand the all out tow ban concept that is common in the midwest. Not all disabled, stuck or wrecked vehicles need to, or can be, safely recovered during the actual storm, but to prohibit all towing is questionable. I see the intent, and if the local tower is not staffed to allow for rest then the agency may need to step in and force a rest, but what about major metropolitan areas? It seems unfair to restrict a business if they could safely complete their task.
  13. Perhaps you are correct, and sure I would love to have the ability to create polls.
  14. Again you are correct and right on point as usual. The response to critical issues within this industry is pathetic, as evidenced by the 197 views vs. 11 replies to this thread, the 230 views with zero replies to the precedent setting invoice collection case underway in Maine and many more posts on this forum board. I am not holding my breath waiting for OSHA to save the day, their Agency only has a total budget for all industry enforcement of $550 million and they are so short staffed, understaffed by over 100 inspectors, that they barely can keep up with incoming complaints and active incident investigations. Out of all of industry they only performed a total of approx. 22,000 inspections in 2017 with less than 50 focused on the towing industry. By comparison, CalOSHA, the California State Plan for occupational safety leads the nation in enforcement actions and performed almost as many inspections on towing companies within their state as the Federal Agency did nationwide. Until our industry stops being so fragmented and worried about strengthening our competition we will never overcome these shortfalls. The excellent leaders in this industry are occupied with growing their own empires and few give assistance to the industry as a whole. For those that do, I extend a heartfelt thank you. We need more leaders to step up and help move us forward.
  15. This is something I see having a great impact on the roadside service and breakdown towing segment of the industry. I spoke on this with John Borowski during the American Towman seminar series in 2017 as one of the subjects impacting our Vision 2020, or the future of the industry. Regardless of Tesla's future involvement, automated vehicles in general are here to stay. I envision a time when self-driving or even highly automated vehicles will self-diagnosis faults and refuse to leave the parking spot until they are fixed, or route themselves to a service center when service is due. This will greatly reduce unexpected roadside failures or general breakdown tows, because the car will schedule and deliver itself for service on-time and BEFORE a full failure occurs. On a side note, given several states are now allowing for the "vehicle" to be the licensed driver I fully expect a sharp reduction in DUI impounds and unlicensed/uninsured impounds. The vehicle can not be cited for DUI, and as part of its self diagnostic it will not drive anywhere with expired credentials. Both scenarios are game changing for a large portion of our industry, just think about it.