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What would you do "safety discussion 1"


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iqtech Responded:

what jumps out at me in that pic is 1: no safety vest 2: service truck is parked incorrectly (should be a bit further back and at an angle) and 3: which one is the service truck driver? no uniform or anything like that. other than that on a nice wide shoulder like that I would have no issue changing the tire instead of towing it.

Latta Responded:

We will not change a tire on the highway. It seems like the spare is always flat/low, bolts are on way too tight, etc. When one of us goes out, it's a Null, not an employee. I'll be damned if I'll go to my brother's funeral over a tire change.

Kochesauto Responded:

I too agree with all of the above comments(move vehicle to safer location)makes you wonder how many operators we loose each year doing tire changes and gas calls.the real challenge is to get the motoring public,pd and most of all MOTOR CLUBS that sometimes this is the better way.these days I walk away from a tire change in a bad spot if not allowed to tow to a safer place.

Steve Catlett Responded:

I will not let my drivers due a tire change on the highway for any one. No exceptions! There well being is my company's top priority. As for the picture I to agree were is this mans safety clothing or a least a fee orange cones.

Midwesttowing1985 Responded:

I can understand anyone who wants to get a car off of a major highway to do a tire change.But for me, I have been changing tires on the side of I-80 for about 25 years so I guess I am somewhat used to it, but since the topic has come up, I have timed how long it takes me to do the average tire change and then the average load up time of a vehicle with a flat and it turns out that it takes less time to change a tire if it all goes right plus about half of those tire changes are away from the traffic side. I should add that when we do a tire change, we use a small service truck which has everything needed for changing tires. It helps having all the right tools, it makes the the job go much faster.

Vernon75 Responded:

I agree with midwest towing 100%. The only time it may take longer with me is with a GM or chrysler veh that has the spare under the car. Up here in the north east everything gets corroded and the spare won't drop down.

BigWheelRecovery Responded:

Sometimes we get set in our ways an you might not be able to see the forest through the trees, then something really bad happens to you or a family member that money can't fix. Then we start with the I should of or could of... but it's to late for that now in 3 days the funeral will be over, we lost a branch on the family tree.

Things really sink in when the phone rings an someone is asking for your son Tommy, man you have to say he's no longer with us, then they ask did he quit or get another job, he always said how great it was working with my Dad? Your eyes start to water an you realize it was the lack of proper training he didn't get outside your business, because you were busy an had to have Tommy ready to respond to those cheap motor club calls. Everything you do is fast fast cause its only 20 bucks an now that's the price a life was worth.

Lets STOP an think about what has been happening to us an our industry, most of our nearly 100 towers that are killed every year are doing motor club calls and most companies that do these calls have huge turnovers of personal, mainly because the calls pay short money so it's hard to find seasoned and certified people with clean driving records that can pass a drug test for low hourly rates or commissions. Also, tow company bosses are at times not forward thinking, they're still buying dangerous cheaper priced equipment for there people mostly because they're still thinking about what was good 20 years ago.

My view, no tow company should be doing Police calls on any highway with a ramp truck that doesn't have an auto grip. It cost $3500 more and when you sell the truck you get $3500 more because it has a Autogrip, it's free. Regular wheel lifts are the wrong tool and should be banned, think about it your guys are on there hands an knee's beside a car or small truck in the middle of the highway with traffic at 80 mph. Getting out of the way of a speeding driver not paying attention, while playing with those L bars an frozen pins, trying to adjust the opening space an install the safety straps, dumb.

Also some of us are still buying ramps with the head boards attached to the truck frames, man no thought when into that purchase. I say if you own one get rid of it and order one with the head board is attached to the body. Think for a moment the ramp goes back then you tilt it, guess what you just covered your rear tail lights an because the head board is frame mounted the bed goes up an you are now blocking  your take downs an your amber's at 3am, your all blacked out on an unlit highway nothing good will come out of that, just think about it that's all I ask. The last two responders above this post most likely haven't lost anyone yet or had close ties with another tow company that did. So maybe the real danger hasn't hit close to home for them, well they have been lucky so far and that's great.

Anyway our company policy, we don't change tires on the highway, we go to the next exit ramp, you have to go there anyway, also don't take your side rails off your ramp they will help you get off the highway faster. Another point, make sure your guys put there level 3 safety vest on before getting into your tow trucks going to all calls, not in the middle of the road at a scene. Maybe with a little thought we can avoid a real tragedy.

That's my view if you agree say so, train your crew properly with programs such as WreckMaster. If you have a different opinion speak up, silence won't save any lives here . wink.gif   Thanks again  BOB 

TowZone Responded:

Think about it strobes can be mounted to the front corners of the bed when using a stationary headboard. Sadly, many companies have minimal lighting. Then again there does not seems to be a correlation between vests and lighting as a solution to resolving or decreasing the number of roadside deaths. Not to discount any and all safety measures, as we must all take precautions and we must all work to educate others. We do this so that we do not read their name in the paper one day.

It is hard to break old habits as I hear I can do it faster on the side of the road. I ask, but can you do it safer?

In the instances where drivers have been struck and killed, the majority were wearing a vest. They were conducting a proper tow and they were doing every thing right. They were in control of the situation, except the situation changed and they were not in control of the variables which came from outside their focus area. That control rests with the person armed with a steering wheel. They have the control to Slow Down Move Over, I want to see a campaign which raises the awareness but the focus of most states is still on seat belts. If the public does not get it yet they never will, we need to encourage them to focus more on a plight.

In this first discussion, I took the photo... No one will ever know if I altered a destiny by taking the time to stop. Sure there was enough space from the white line, but that is not a bearer. That line does not prevent a distracted driver from crossing it and neither do the bumps on some interstates. It only takes a second, even a driver who is not impaired can become distracted and cross that line. Look at the image and imagine that I am the vehicle that just crossed the line.Think about it, now quickly could you react, your already to late!

You even saw it coming because the support vehicle was not positioned in a manner that it would have taken the hit. If you are going to or must do a tire change on the side of the roadway use your vehicle as a barrier, turn the wheel into traffic and not straight. If it is struck then it should take the impact and veer away from you. This practice may very well give you a few extra second to react and save your life. Sadly, I once heard and owner say he would fire a driver who place his equipment in danger positioning it is such a manner. Think about it, is the equipment really worth more than a life?

Go over safety procedures regularly, if only with yourself.

Littletow Responded:

Interesting... I am surprised by some of these comments.

Which is more important- Value of Life, your Time, Equipment, or Money?

It does not matter what type of a call it was. Safety precautions should always be taken.

It takes only a second, the last project I was on, a tower was tightening his load, no vest, on the shoulder, working on the drivers side control, a semi comes by didn't see him, and his 18 year old some watched as his father was tossed into the lanes of traffic, because the semi's mirror tagged him.

In the years I have been teaching IM/ Safety across the US, the biggest mistake I have found, is when we become complacent/comfortable in what we are doing, someone loses their life.

I challenge each of you to create a public service announcement (PSA) with your phone, upload it to you tube, and post it to your website, and all social media you are involved in. If you want to create awareness, this is the fastest and easiest way to get it out there. This is free marketing and awareness. Give it to your staff to post on their pages as well. Tell your customers about, have it playing in your offices... Many ways to do this.

WE are responsible for not educating our staff, our customers and the public.

Have safety meetings once a week, this is imperative with your staff.

BigWheel Recovery Responded:

Rod an I both mentioned in the above discussions that getting everyday work related safety issues out front is important.

The picture at the beginning of this post says a lot about what untrained or unsupervised employees do when the boss is not around and exactually what I see as I travel around the country. I drive to most of our seminars including Baltimore, Ohio and Vegas (flew this year first time to Vegas an hated it, you don't see anything). Maybe its just the truck driver in me I guess.

When traveling the highlight for me is to stop by some of the companies that have been to one of our classes. I really enjoy seeing their operations. Along the way, I commonly see tow operators changing tires or hooking disables on the Highways with no police around, no vest, and the truck is in front on a tire change. I feel it's time we all slow down a little and have a safety meeting with all operators present. We need to make it mandatory they follow your company safety policy and then have each one sign off that they were instructed on this policy. Place that form in there personal file as OSHA requires. If something happens OSHA will be at your facility with in 6 hrs with a big fine.

Also, I see most tow companies buy the same old duplicated equipment you know it worked all those years fine so it must be OK. When hydraulic wheel lifts came out in the big wreckers everyone thought it wasn't ever going to replace the good old cable operated towbar, automatic transmissions in PickUp's and medium duty trucks who would ever buy that? Well look around try to find a big wrecker without a hydraulic lift. Now, if you don't have an autogrip on one of your ramps today then your probably saying what the heck is BOB talking about, I understand that, we have 5/ 550 ramps all equipped with Autogrips and have been using them for many years.

We never have to get inbetween any vehicle an can always work the controls away from the traffic side,best part we don't have to use the bed much only for the 4x4's or real twisters.When you go to tow show's you'll only see the same old dianasour wheel lifts on ramps there's never any autogrips on show models simply because everyone is price shopping there not safety shopping. All I can say, if you try one or buy one then you will see how crazy it was to have your crew work with those dangerous on your knee's wheel lifts especially in the snow an rain.

Now as far as side rails well that's another pet pev of mine, just watch a tow operator in the middle of the highway at a 2 or 3 car crash, he might not be able to take his vehicle perfectly straight on, he attaches his bridle an winches the damageded vehicle up on to the bed it hits the side rails an is guided up without going on crooked  he's off the road. Without the rails, one wheel might be hanging over the side of the bed, the cars crooked and you look bad. Now, I know we all can run snatch blocks from side to side to guide it on but that takes precious time and exposes everyone to oncoming traffic for much longer including the State Police directing traffic.With side rails on, no need to reach over the sides of the bed or climb on the bed all points can be secured from the sides. Oh well that's my thoughts on these safety issues.  BOB   


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  • 2 weeks later...

Dave Lambert created Tow First for this very reason. But, some states with highway programs, including DOT, Hero, Ranger and FSP, still provide tire changes regardless as to what tire is flat. So, these programs lend to potential operator fatality. It makes perfect sense to me to get off the highway to make the tire change in a place of safety. There are all great responses from a lot of smart tow owners, operators and industry trainers where saving life is far more valued than the price of a service call or the time it takes to change the tire. The fatality numbers for white-line fatalities is staggering, especially for those experienced operators who were working in their normal routine and were hit by some distracted or DUI motorist that came into their work site. The difference between changing a tire on the white-line side and loading a vehicle first is, working from the non-traffic side eliminates much of the driver exposure to approaching traffic. Plus, a carrier or tow truck provides some level of metal protection to take the brunt of impact. Note: The picture at the beginning of this topic shows two persons working the white-line side with NO eyes on approaching traffic ...ya' can't respond to what you don't see and the service truck provides no blocking protection. I believe in Tow First and support its intent.

Edited by rreschran
spelling error

Randall C. Resch

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  • 5 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

I have blocked an given light to several of these service trucks over the years.


My question is, why do tow companies put such few warning lights on their service vehicles.


They have 1/3rd or 1 half size light bars or full size older style light bars. Few have strobes on the corner. It's the Pay, vehicle and lights equal about what the motor club is paying for a service call. If that is the case then we're all doomed. At minimum the Hazardous situation they are cause will catch up to them and I'll sadly be sending out yet another tower down.


This was the First in our Safety discussion series. Check them all out in this forum and add your thoughts.

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