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Re: Accidents or Repeated Mistakes?

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In past years I’ve been an invited guest speaker at CHP/FSP quarterly training in San Diego and Orange County FPS commands. At American Towman shows in all locations, and, for tow companies on CHP rotation throughout the state, I’ve made PowerPoint presentations covering the reasons why its safer working the non-traffic side. The presentation is entitled, “Accidents or Repeated Mistakes”, based on the always present dangers that exist for operators serving highway environments. It’s based on lessons learn over years and years of REPEATED mistakes made by tow operators.


The motoring public has their hand of responsibility in staying out of emergency shoulders, but towers have got to learn, practice and adjust to those deadly sins of white-line safety. In a nutshell, and in no particular order, my safety presentation suggests these (repeatable) reminders regarding shoulder protocol:   


  1. All operators serving the highway must be fully trained (TIM) ... don't send the new guys
  2. Prepare the tow truck before responding on the highway
  3. Avoid having to free-spool cable
  4. Wear an ANSI approved vest
  5. Be aware of approaching traffic at all times
  6. Know your escape route
  7. Whenever possible, remain away from white-line traffic
  8. Operate controls from the non-traffic side
  9. Stay-out of live traffic lanes
  10. Don't stand in the Pinch Zone
  11. Employ cones, flares or triangles
  12. Use overhead emergency lighting to announce SDMO; not just four-way flashers
  13. Stay out of the shadows working in the shade
  14. Load and go - don’t conduct service calls
  15. Exit cab when safe using, “Peek a Boo”, re-entry technique


While each of these has a special reasoning, not all towers are aware nor do they use these techniques. And, these recommendations are specific to all classes of towing operations. I’m hoping that this latest operator fatality will ignite re-training for all towers including the company’s most experienced operator. Feel free to use them as discussion points at your next safety meeting. If you have additional suggestions or techniques, your comments are welcome as to what training you present that’s specific to your area(s) of service?      R.

Randall C. Resch

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