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Re: Another Highway Injury - Tire Change ... Really?

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A different tow truck forum recently posted a prayer request on November 1st for a tow operator struck by a speeding car when he attempted to do a tire change on a highway. That story is the usual one where the customer refused to move the car, yet the tower went on to work the tire change. His scenario was very much similar to, December 17, 2015,  a San Diego County, California, tow operator, Jabar Issa, was killed and AAA service technician Mark Larrison critically injured because their AAA customer allegedly refused not to have his car towed, but aggressively demanded to have his tire changed. WHY are tow operators still conducting tire changes on the shoulders of high-speed highways? Where happened to common sense when the practice of changing tires has proved many times over its danger potential.


I remind towers that YOU are in-charge of on-scene safety. Please don’t let some motor-club policy and procedures get in-the-way of your decision to NOT change a tire or provide service in dangerous locations. Keep in-mind that as many as thirty-three tow operators have been killed changing tires across America and nine-tires related fatalities in California over the years. The fatality numbers overwhelmingly prove that dangers exist. What does it take to get that safety message across?

Owners; there’s NO reason to demand your tow operators or service technicians put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of the cost of a service call. Don’t let some obnoxious motorist over-power your common sense. Towers ...  don’t get yourself killed over customer satisfaction issues. Decrease your exposure by loading or towing vehicles off the highway to a safer location, or, for those motorists who still refuse, don’t hesitate to refuse service and call your highway patrol. Your continued safety should be your Number-One priority. And owners; think of it this way, “It’s far easier to deal with customer service complaints than it is having to bury one of your employees for something that could have been prevented.


I write this in-memory of my friend and long-time industry advocate and trainer, Dave Lambert, who professed that tow operators NOT change tires on the sides of super-highways, but load or tow them to a safe place to conduct tire changes. His was a message of survival that made common sense and required a change in tow operator mentality. Dave passed away in 2017 and his website, Tow First, is all but a memory. The concept of Tow First should live-on as does its message, but only to those who choose to heed it.  Here's a link to Tow First's message:   Rest in peace Dave.     R 


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Randall C. Resch

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AAA will give us a second call # to tow the vehicle to a safe place to change a tire, and we have not had any issues with the members once we explain to them that we need a safe place to change their tire to avoid be killed.

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ALstow, Good Morning and thanks for your comments. After Mr. Issa was killed and Mr. Larrison critically injured, I was invited by the AAA/ACSC corporate management to discuss that fatality and what lessons were to be learned from that fatal.


Since that time, I have heard (from you and others) that many auto clubs now provide a second call number. A second call number allows the tow operator to make a proper decision as to whether or not the tire change is too dangerous. This allows for the operator to load and move to another location as you've explained. That's an awesome answer to on-scene safety. I think much of making the decision to move the vehicle to a safer location comes with a tow operators ability to describe the inherent dangers to their member or customer. It's only human nature for some to not cooperate. It's to those personalities towers must deal with a firm hand or simply NOT change the service. And, for a fact, the highway patrol will respond on the tower's behalf if the motorist is too ignorant and too adamant to see the reality of the existing roadside dangers.    R.

Randall C. Resch

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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.

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We find them stopped in the travel lane constantly, they become a little agitated when told to either drive it to safety or if it is a rear flat we will tow it on the flat. If it is a dollie then it has to go to the lot. Every now and then they will have driven it to the point it was shredded. Passing at least one exit and a few pull offs, they stop in the traveled portion of the roadway. If you know what it is going to take to change this speak up. Same with companies allowing their drivers to change tires along these same roadways. Roadways similar to where other drivers have lost their lives. Either intentional or unintentional I have to wonder why their drivers are placed in harms way.


Tow First was a Good Program, Motor Clubs were beginning to recognize the dangers. I would hope such a Legacy has not been totally forgotten with Dave passing.

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