Good points from everyone, but I still maintain we as an industry are our worst enemy. Until we raise the price of admission to our great industry to a higher standard than the ability to point and steer straight down the road, we will face these issue. As much as I hate to admit it, I feel the only way to raise up is to require a certification and or special licensing to get behind the wheel of a tow truck, either as an owner or operator.
While a college or high school course would be amazing to be a part of, there's a large portion of employees as well as employers who see a 2 day WreckMaster course as a waste of time and money, let alone the dedication a college level class would take. There are too many people in towing and recovery that see it just as a job rather than a career, and most owners don't do much in the way of trying to change that. For every one company taking the time to train and equip their guys and girls with the best of the best there's at least 10 companies that just worry about filling the seat. We as a whole need to be more open to training constantly. To become an EMT I had to take a semester long class 3 nights a week at our local college. To stay an EMT I have to take refreshers in 3 different areas of emergency medicine before my card expires or I lose it. I go through the same hoops to keep my fire inspector license current each year. Why shouldn't we as towers be required to take a traffic safely course once a year to stay in a tow truck?
Along with a lack of training we have an ignorance in the importance of personal protection and advanced traffic warning. Back in late 2007 when the new ANSI regulations were announced we spent a boat load of money buying reflective vests and jackets to make sure our employees were in compliance with the new laws. Unfortunately, in the 12 years since the new laws took effect, we remain the only company in our town out of 8 companies that you will see wearing high viz. Again, we cannot get the majority of our industry to follow a federal regulation that has been adopted by every other industry that works on the side of the road. A FEDERAL REGULATION. Hell, I pass more carriers without a proper 4 point tie down than I pass carriers with a proper tie down. We can't get guys to make sure the car they are towing is going to stay on their truck, let alone getting them to put a vest on and throw some cones.
Advanced traffic warning should be as routine a part of our jobs as starting the truck. The number one thing I have done to keep myself safe on the road is to take the TIM course and implement it's principals. My truck has 18 flares and 8 cones and they get used regularly. If you can't see me before you get to me there's a problem. I am for sure cones and flares have saved my life more than once. Even with all the free classes out there, I still see trucks loading cars on dark highways with no advanced traffic warning and blocked emergency lights. The traffic cannot move over or show down if you do not give them enough warning that they have something to move over from. How many times have you not seen a truck on the roadside until it was too late to do anything? Again, traffic WILL NOT move over for you if you don't give them as much pre warning as you can. I see a lot of videos posted to social media about traffic not moving over for the poster, but very rarely do I see cones, flares, or even a vest in the video. Again, if you want traffic to move over for you, give them the warning they need to do it safely.
NFPA 1500 works for the fire service because it's a service filled mostly with guys and girls who want to do the job the best way possible. They think nothing of doing a hundred hours a year in training and a drill a week is a fun challenge. When's the last time you passed a low buck tow truck doing a training? I've never seen it. The best way to stop these road side incidents is to get rid of the shit bags in our industry and fill it with people who want to be the best they can be, not just fill a seat.