Tow Truck Safety Seminar Manual for the Repo Industry

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

[Note: Each section heading is a hot link to that topic in the Manual]


The goal of Prime Insurance is to certify tow truck drivers owners and employees in proper towing safety so that all drivers will understand the personal safety aspects of the road.

Once you complete certification training, you will be given a Certificate of Completion card enabling you to receive discount insurance rates, even if you change employment from one Prime insured to another Prime insured. Every two years you will be required to attend a re-certification class when your card expires.

DISCLAIMER

When using this handbook, please remember that it is only a summary of the laws and regulations.  The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), law enforcement, and courts follow the full and exact language of the law contained. Copies of the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, or Title 22, Division 4.5 may be purchased from:

Superintendent of Documents

U.S. Government Printing Office

Washington, D.C. 20402

Telephone Number (202) 512-1800

7:30AM to 4:30PM EST

This entire course, and all materials, are copyrighted, and may not be copied in whole or in part, without the expressed, written permission of H.A.R. Inc.

(818) 705-5625

BIOGRAPHY:

Mike Reiter

Mike Reiter’s career in the automotive business began in 1970, as a technician. He then moved on to manage two service stations with a small fleet of tow trucks in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1980, he relocated to southern California. With the dream of owning his own repair shop and towing company, he founded Home Auto Repair in Reseda, California.

In 1984 he purchased his first tow truck. Within the year, the Automobile Club of Southern California approached him to become a contractor and the rest is history. In 1990, Mike pursued Dynamic Wrecker Sales of Virginia, to become the sole distributor to build and sell tow trucks in the state of California. He was always among the top five Dynamic distributors in the country. With the demands of the industry becoming more specific, Mike sought a product that he felt met the needs of diverse tow operators. Mike combined his tow truck manufacturing company with one of the largest Vulcan distributors in the United States, Tow Industries. By 2002, Tow Industries and HAR Inc/West Valley Wrecker Sales had become the largest Vulcan 810 Intruder distributor in the Unites States. In 2005, customers wanted a product that had evolved with the changes of our time and HAR Inc/West Valley Wrecker Sales became a distributor for Recovery Solutions, Inc. By 2006, HAR Inc/West Valley Wrecker Sales has become the largest west coast factory representatives for Recovery. Mike credits his great success to the support from his wife, Kathy, and his business partner and brother, Hal, and to actively listening to the client’s needs and wants, then catering to their request.

HIGHWAY SAFETY

This training material is intended as a guideline to assist the REPO INDUSTRY in identifying the hazards that may be present in the course of driving. It also includes precautions to minimize the risks caused by other motorists.

The highway environment today often involves hazardous conditions.  Many drivers, especially those new to the job, are unaware of these hazards and do not understand the degree of danger they represent.  Acquiring this knowledge comes from years of experience, sharing with peers, or formal training.  Obviously, on- the- job experience is not the desirable way to learn about highway safety.  Take this material seriously - drivers are seriously injured in this vocation each year.  Unfortunately, there is no set of rules to guarantee your safety.

VEHICLE CODES

Tow Truck

Section 615

          (a)      “Tow truck” is a motor vehicle which has been altered or designed and equipped for, and primarily used in the business of, transporting vehicles by means of a crane, hoist, tow bar, tow line, or dolly or is otherwise primarily used to render assistance to other vehicles.  A “roll-back carrier” designed to carry up to two vehicles is also a tow truck. “Tow truck” does not include an automobile dismantler’s tow vehicle.

          (b)     Persons licensed as a repossession agency pursuant to Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 11500) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code may utilize a tow truck when repossessing vehicles.

Obedience to Traffic Officers

Section 2800

It is unlawful to willfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order, signal, or direction of any peace officer, when that peace officer is in uniform and is performing duties under any of the provisions of this code, or to refuse to submit to any lawful inspection under this code.

Obedience to Firemen

Section 2801

It is unlawful to willfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order, signal, or direction of any member of any fire department, paid, volunteer, or company operated, when wearing the badge or insignia of a fireman and when in the course of his duties he is protecting the personnel and fire department equipment.

Commercial Vehicle Inspection

Section 2813

Every driver of a commercial vehicle shall stop and submit the vehicle to an inspection of the size, weight, equipment, and smoke emissions of the vehicle at any location where members of the Highway Patrol are conducting tests and inspections of commercial vehicles and when signs are displayed requiring to stop. Every driver who fails or refuses to stop and submit the vehicle to an inspection when signs are displayed requiring that stop is guilty of a misdemeanor.

          Section 260 (A) Defines Commercial Vehicle As

(A)“Commercial Vehicle” is a vehicle of a type required to be registered under this code used or maintained for the transportation of persons for hire, compensation, or profit or designed, used, or maintained primarily for the transportation of property.

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Registration Required

Section 4000 (a)

No person shall drive, move or leave standing upon a highway, or in an off street public parking facility, any motor vehicle, trailer, semi trailer, pole or pipe dolly, logging dolly, or auxiliary dolly unless it is registered and the appropriate fees have been paid under this code, except that an off-highway motor vehicle which displays an identification plate or device issued by the department pursuant to section 38010 may be driven, moved, or left standing in an off street public parking facility without being registered or paying registration fees.

Subdivision (a) applies to a vehicle that is towed from a highway or off street parking facility under direction of a highway service organization when that organization is providing emergency roadside assistance to that vehicle. However, the operator of the tow truck providing that assistance to that vehicle is not responsible for the violation of subdivision (a) with respect to that vehicle.

Owner’s Responsibility

Section 40001 (a)

It is unlawful for the owner, or any other person, employing or otherwise directing the driver of any vehicle to cause the operation of the vehicle upon a highway in any matter contrary to law.

Towed Vehicle; Owner Responsibility

Section 40006

Whenever a disabled vehicle, being taken to a repair shop, garage, or other place of storage, is being towed upon a highway by a tow truck and the vehicle is determined to be in violation of subdivision (a) of Section 4000, the violation shall be charged as prescribed in section 40001.

Light Impairing Drivers Vision

Section 21466.5

No person shall place, maintain or display upon or in view of any highway, any light of any color of such brilliance as to impair the vision of drivers upon the highway.

Obstruction to Driving

Section 21700

No person shall drive a vehicle when it is so loaded, or when there are in the front seat such number of persons as to obstruct the view of the driver to the front or sides of the vehicle or as to interfere with the driver’s control over the driving mechanism of the vehicle.

Towed Vehicle Swerving

Section 21711

No person shall operate a train of vehicles when any vehicle being towed whips or swerves from side to side or fails to follow substantially in the path of the towing vehicle.

Unlawful Riding and Towing

Section 21712 (a)

No person driving a motor vehicle shall knowingly permit any person to ride on any vehicle or upon any portion thereof not designed or intended for the use of passengers.

Pass on Right Safely

Section 21755

The driver of a motor vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.  In no event shall such movement be made by driving off the paved or main-traveled portion of the highway.

Extension Lights

Section 24605

(a)       A tow truck or an automobile dismantler’s tow vehicle used to tow a vehicle shall be equipped with and carry a taillamp,a stoplamp, turn signal lamps, and a portable electrical extension cord for use in displaying the lamps on the rear of a towed vehicle.

          (b)     Whenever a tow truck or an automobile dismantler’s tow vehicle is towing a vehicle and a stop lamp or turn signal lamps cannot be lighted and displayed on the rear of the towed vehicle, the operator of the tow truck or the automobile dismantler’s tow vehicle shall, by means of an extension cord, display to the rear, stop lamps and turn signal lamp mounted on the towed vehicle, except as provided in subdivision (c).  During darkness, if a taillamp on the towed vehicle cannot be lighted, the operator of the tow truck or the automobile dismantler’s tow vehicle shall, by means of an extension cord, display to the rear a taillamp mounted on the towed vehicle.

          (c)      Whenever any motor vehicle is towing another motor vehicle, stoplamps and turn signal lamps are not required on the towed motor vehicle, but only if a stoplamp and turn signal lamp on each side of the rear of the towing vehicle is plainly visible to the rear of the towed vehicle.

Warning Lamps on Tow Trucks

Section 25253

          (a)      Tow trucks used to tow disabled vehicles shall be equipped with flashing amber warning lamps.

          (b)     Tow trucks may display flashing amber warning lamps while providing service to a disabled vehicle.  A flashing amber warning lamp upon a tow truck may be displayed to the rear when the tow truck is towing a vehicle and moving at a speed slower than the normal flow of traffic.

Child Passenger Restraints

Section 27360

          No parent or legal guardian, when present in a passenger motor vehicle or motor truck of less than 6,001 pounds unladen weight, shall permit his or her child or ward under the age of four years, regardless of weight, or weighing less than 40 pounds, regardless of age, to be transported upon a highway in a motor vehicle without providing and properly using, for each child or ward, a child passenger restraint system meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.

                   No driver shall transport on a highway any child under four years of age, regardless of weight, or weighing less than 40 pounds, regardless of age, in a passenger vehicle or motor truck of less than 6,001 pounds unladen weight without providing and properly securing the child in a child passenger restrain system meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards. This subdivision does not apply to a driver if the parent or legal guardian of the child is also present in the vehicle and is not the driver.

Section 27360.5

          (a)      No parent or legal guardian, when present in a motor vehicle as described in Section 27315, shall permit his or her child or ward who is four years of age or older but less than 16 years of age and weighs 40 pounds or more to be transported upon a highway in the motor vehicle without providing and properly using, for each child or ward, a safety belt meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.

          (b)     No driver shall transport on a highway any child who is four years of age or older but less that 16 years of age and weighs 40 pounds or more in a motor vehicle, as defined in Section 27315, without providing and properly using a safety belt meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.  This subdivision does not apply to a driver if the parent or legal guardian of the child is also present in the vehicle and is not the driver.

Tread Depth of Pneumatic Tires

Section 27465 (a)

No dealer or person holding a retail seller’s shall sell, offer for sale, expose for sale, or install on a vehicle axle for use on a highway, a pneumatic tire when the tire has less than the tread depth specified in subdivision (b).  This subdivision does not apply to any person who installs on a vehicle, as part  of an emergency service rendered to a disabled vehicle upon a highway, a spare tire with which the disabled vehicle was equipped.

          (b)     No person shall use on a highway a pneumatic tire on a vehicle axle when the tire has less than the following tread depth, except when temporarily installed on a disabled vehicle as specified in subdivision (a).

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          (1)     One thirty-second (1/32) of an inch tread depth in any two adjacent grooves at any location of the tire.

          Section 360 Defines Highways as:

          “HIGHWAY” is a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.  “HIGHWAY” includes street.

Required Equipment

Section 27700

          (a)      Tow trucks shall be equipped with and carry all of the following:

                   One broom, and the driver of the tow truck engaged to remove a disabled vehicle from the scene of an accident shall remove all glass and debris deposited upon the roadway by the disabled vehicle which is to be towed. 

                   One shovel, and whenever practical the tow truck driver engaged to remove any disabled vehicle shall spread dirt upon that portion of the roadway where oil or grease has been deposited by the disabled vehicle.

                   One or more fire extinguishers of the dry chemical or carbon dioxide type with an aggregate rating of at least 4-B, C units and bearing the approval of a laboratory nationally recognized as properly equipped to make the approval.

          (b)     A person licensed as a repossession agency pursuant to Chapter 11 (commencing with section 7500) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions code is exempt from this section.

Tow Trucks

Section 27907

          There shall be displayed in a conspicuous place on both the right and left side of a tow truck or an automobile dismantlers tow vehicle used to tow or carry vehicles a sign showing the name of the  company or the owner or operator of the tow truck or the automobile dismantlers tow vehicle.  The sign shall also contain the business address and telephone number of the owner or driver.  The letters and numbers of the sign shall not be less than 2 inches in height and shall be in contrast to the color of the background upon which they are placed.

A person licensed as a  repossession agency pursuant to Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 7500) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code, or a registered employee of the agency, may use the license number issued to the agency by the Department of Consumer Affairs in lieu of a name, business address, and telephone number.

          Towed Vehicle

Section 29004

                             Every towed vehicle to be coupled to the towing vehicle or tow truck by means of a safety chain, cable, or equivalent device in addition to the regular drawbar, tongue or other connection.  

                             This section now requires four points of tie down in addition to the primary restraining system when a towed vehicle is coupled to a tow truck.  The safety chains shall be securely affixed to the truck frame, bed or towing equipment, independent of the towing sling, wheel lift, or under-reach towing equipment.  Additionally, vehicles being transported on a slide back carrier or conventional trailer shall be independent of the winch or loading cable.

          All safety connections and attachments shall be of sufficient strength to control the towed vehicle in event of failure of the regular hitch, coupling device, drawbar, tongue or other connection.  All safety connections and attachments also shall have a positive means of ensuring that the safety connection or attachment does not become dislodged while in transit.

          No more slack shall be left in a safety chain, cable or equivalent device than is necessary to permit proper turning.  When a drawbar is used as the towing connection, the safety chain, cable or equivalent device shall be connected to the towed and towing vehicle and to the drawbar so as to prevent the drawbar from dropping to the ground if the drawbar fails.

HAZARD ZONES

While recovering a vehicle, there are a number of hazard zones that a tow operator should avoid in case an errant vehicle drifts over the fog line. One area is between the flow of traffic and the stalled vehicle when on a shoulder of the road. This area has the highest exposure of all the hazard zones. The second is between vehicles including between the rear vehicle and moving traffic. The third is between the vehicles and a wall or guardrail. These areas can be deadly to a technician, should an accident occur.

Extension lights are designed to be installed from the driver's side of the tow truck. However, this is the worst area to stand in while attaching the lights. Store the extension lights on the passenger side of the wrecker bed, for normal right shoulder calls. Move them to the driver's side before leaving the shop to answer a center divider call. String these lights on the side away from traffic and minimize the time you spend in this high exposure area.

HAZARDOUS WASTE DISPOSAL

It is always a concern of the EPA that we comply with regulations regarding air quality and the environment. Your local Dmv, Highway Patrol or Sheriff’s Department has pamphlets for proper disposal sites. All fluids from an automobile or truck are considered hazardous waste and must be properly disposed.

SAFETY APPAREL

REFLECTORIZED VEST (or its equivalent): Makes you more visible, especially when visibility is below normal. Inexpensive vests are available through Aw Direct, (800) 243-3194, Wear Guard, (800) 388-3300, and most uniform supply companies.

Note: there is no evidence that a reflectorized vest has the same effect that amber warning lights have on semi-conscious motorists. The attraction that sleepy and intoxicated drivers have to bright lights has no known relationship to the use of a safety vest.

JACKETS: Should be equipped with reflective stripes or tape.

RAIN GEAR: Whenever the weather dictates, bright yellow or orange rain gear should be worn for maximum visibility.

GLOVES: Are to be worn whenever operating a wrecker, especially any time you are working with cables -  frayed or broken wires can cause painful injuries.

WORK SHOES/BOOTS: Need be outfitted with steel toes and worn at all times. Sandals or tennis shoes do not offer adequate protection from falling or dropped objects.

SAFETY GLASSES: An exploding battery can result in serious facial injury and/or permanent eye damage, so furnish your wrecker with at least one pair.

Note: Safety apparel is not a substitute for training, attentiveness, or maintaining a defensive posture while working on any highway, surface street, or other locations while exposed to moving vehicular traffic.

HIGHWAY SURVIVAL

ESCAPE ROUTE      Assess the situation, survey the area at the scene and plan a course of action for fleeing from an approaching vehicle.        

EYE ON TRAFFIC    Watch traffic every moment possible.

EMERGENCY LIGHTING

Only Necessary Emergency Lights

Section #25268

No person shall display a flashing amber warning light on a vehicle as permitted by this code except when an unusual traffic hazard exists.

Even though you see many service vehicle operators displaying emergency lights illegally and unnecessarily, such as city police, fire departments, freeway and construction workers, this should not inspire you to do the same. Human nature encourages individuals to use emergency lights much more than necessary for the purpose of self-importance. Display the minimum lighting necessary for the situation. Be a professional.

Emergency Lighting and Semi-coherent Motorists

Over 20 years ago the Department of Transportation (DOT) did a study to determine why sleepy and intoxicated motorists were involved in collisions with state vehicles parked on the shoulder of the freeway. They discovered a direct relationship between these semi-coherent drivers and the use of flashing emergency lights. The purpose of a vehicle displaying emergency amber, red or blue lights it to attract attention, therefore, displaying the emergency lights is counterproductive as drivers will take their attention off of driving and rubberneck the lights.

When a person turns their head to the side of their torso, the natural reaction is for the torso to turn the same direction. Intoxicated and sleepy drivers can manage to drive on a freeway for a substantial distance because they are following traffic or taillights. Emergency amber lights on a tow truck command a great deal more attention than taillights set before them. As the driver turns to look at the tow truck, police car, ambulance, etc., he/she steers in the same direction they are looking. This phenomenon is well recognized by the DOT, and appropriate training is covered in their academy.

The unnecessary use of amber flashing or rotating lights may draw a sleepy or intoxicated motorist to your truck. DO NOT use your amber lights unless you are close to, on, or over the fog line, or if your interaction with recovering the vehicle is creating a hazard in some manne.

TOWING SAFETY

Dollies, Safety and Maintenance

There are several different designs and manufacturers of dollies. They range from pan to self-loading, and made from steel or aluminum. Through the years, dolly manufacturers have come up with new innovations. Pan dollies are an older style dolly, which require a 2-ton floor jack, for assembly and installation. To assemble, the 2-ton floor jack must be used to jack up the car, and then the operator assembles the dollies under the car. Once the jack is lowered the car will sit in the pans. I believe the easiest and safest dolly is the Collins International Self-Loading dolly. Collins has two different ratings for their dollies which are determined by the tire size: 4.80 x 8 loading range B - 590 lb, per tire or 2,360 lb. per set of dollies and 5.70 x 8 load range B - 715 lb, per tire or 2,860 lb. per set of dollies.  

Collins also carries steel and aluminum rails. The lifting capacity is not determined by the rail, but by the tire size. Collins dollies also provide a safety latch, which prevents the wheels from going into the down position while in tow. The self-loading dollies are assembled on the ground using a 6-foot pry bar and do not require the need for a floor jack.

All tow dolly manufacturers should supply proper instructions on how to assemble their product. Any manufacturer, which does not provide this necessary instruction, opens the door for a lawsuit. In January 1990, Tow Times Magazine (volume 7, pg. 14) wrote an article concerning a lawsuit between an innocent bystander who was hurt while watching a tow operator install a set of dollies. The tow operator did not secure a safety latch while assembling the dollies. One of the bars swung and struck the innocent bystander, who suffered facial paralysis. The manufacturer of the dollies had safety ratchets built into the dolly, which the tow operator used improperly, causing the complete liability to be placed on the tow operator. This case was settled for $260,000.

Following certain safety procedures is imperative when assembling any manufacturer’s dollies. On many occasions I have observed tow operators improperly following dolly procedures. Do not take the pry bar and hit the release on the dollies. Proper procedure would be to place the pry bar in the retaining area and lower it to the ground.

Steering Wheel Tie Down

A General Motors (GM) service bulletin was released in April 2001, stating:

Deletion of steering column/wheel lock feature on vehicles with automatic transmissions. Models: 2001 Chevrolet/GMC C/K pickup (Silverado, Sierra) and sport utility (Tahoe, Suburban, Yukon, Denali, Yukon XL) and the 2002 Cadillac Escalade.

This clearly identifies the need for all vehicles to have a proper steering wheel tie down prior to towing. Improper tie down will allow the steering wheel to turn freely in any direction causing you to lose control of the car and possibly colliding with parked cars or even into oncoming traffic.

Hook Up

What are four point tie downs?

Section 29004

Vehicle in tow (i.e. whether on a flatbed, wheel lift or sling tow unit) must have four points of tie down.

On a wheel lift or sling truck, the tie down occurs at two points using straps or ratchets from the vehicle to the towing apparatus (scoops, jaw, or cross bar over the top of the tire). The second set of tie downs are from the vehicle to the tow unit using safety chains from two points. Care must be taken to leave slack in the chain so that the vehicle can maneuver freely when making a turn. If the safety chain is too tight, the bumper of the vehicle in tow will be damaged as a result of the safety chain drawing up tight during a turn. If the safety chain is too loose, it will drag along the ground causing damage to the chain.

On a flatbed once the vehicle is brought onto the bed you must have four chains, or four straps, or a combination of both straps and chains. The vehicle must be secured from the undercarriage at either the frame or the axle - preferably the frame. Using the frame prevents the vehicle from bouncing excessively on the bed. There are other tie down systems available on a flatbed such as bucket straps that are fitted around the tires. Winch cable is NOT considered a safety tie down. When transporting a vehicle on a flatbed, ALWAYS put the vehicle in park and set the emergency brake. This additional precaution may spare your life.

What causes transmission troubles? Is it the vehicle? Is it the driver? Is it the design of the transmission? Is it heat? Each one of these items, individually or a combination thereof, can cause transmission failure. In this article, I will review each factor of transmission homicide, giving you tips along the way as to how to avoid such an untimely death.

The vehicle can be undersized for the task required. You might use a three-quarter ton pickup with a wheel lift to snatch small size cars, but then what happens when you have to repo something big? Do you contract it out to someone else or use your own vehicle? Are you overloading your vehicle on a regular basis? Who operates the vehicle? Have your operators been instructed on proper procedure when they experience this type of issue? Take your three-quarter ton truck and try to repo a dump truck or maybe a semi tractor or something similar in that size category. Yes - you can tow a semi tractor with a three-quarter ton pickup, but you really need to be careful. Use a low gear at a slow speed and for SHORT DISTANCES. The same goes for larger vehicles. Make sure that the recovery unit is sized properly for the job; however, size overkill is not the answer either. You don’t need an F-650 if all you’re doing is foreign vehicles and you don’t want a three-quarter ton pickup if you’re primarily in the truck repo market. Do you send your drivers to driver operator school? You say you can’t find one??? Then you need to create your own lesson plan catering for your particular business. Teach them all the fine points of vehicle operation along with back end operation. Even experienced operators can benefit from the small, often overlooked, things. Remember the one about stopping before shifting into reverse? Think about how many times you slam it into reverse before coming to a complete stop. This can cause premature wear and tear.  Transmission design has changed over the years. Has it gotten better or worse? It’s hard to really tell the answer. Most transmission design modifications have been to reduce weight and improve fuel mileage. Manufacturers in some ways have put the heavy-duty market on the back burner. When discussing design we also need to touch on the topic of operator education once again. The biggest problem loophole I have found in driver education is the proper use of the overdrive feature installed in newer work trucks. Locking out the overdrive, at the proper time, can mean the difference between life and death of the transmission. The biggest killer of transmissions is excess fluid temperature. Each element mentioned above creates excessive heat inside the transmission causing the fluid to overheat and ultimately resulting in the self-destruction of the transmission. Want cheap insurance? Add a transmission fluid temperature gauge in the cab and remind the drivers to keep a close eye on it. Forgetting to take the transmission out of overdrive on a long uphill grade with a load, can mean a significant repair bill and unnecessary truck repairs. High fluid temperatures can destroy a transmission in as little as 30 minutes should it reach a temperature over 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

TOW TRUCK MAINTENANCE

Truck manufacturers (i.e. Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet, Isuzu, International etc.) all have scheduled maintenance programs.  In most maintenance books, there are two scheduled maintenance periods, one section is for standard wear and tear, the second section specifically is for towing of trailers.  You will notice that if you use your vehicle for towing trailers, the maintenance is to be preformed more frequently.  Being in the repossession industry you use your truck for towing and you should use the scheduled maintenance program assigned to towing.  

Your wrecker body manufacturers, i.e. Vulcan, Dynamic, Century, etc. all have maintenance that must be done.  Different manufacturers of wreckers have different locations for grease fittings that must be greased on a regular basis.  Most wrecker manufacturers suggest hydraulic filters every couple of years and greasing every couple of months.

I, personally, operate a fifteen tow unit fleet and do not follow the manufacturers recommended scheduled maintenance program.  This is the theory that I use, if you are a single unit operator, do your maintenance once a month.  For companies that have multi-unit offices, schedule your trucks for maintenance once a month on the same day of each month, preferably a Monday.  Why on a Monday?  You may ask.  Scheduling off one of your agents on a Monday gives you a spare truck at the facility, if on the weekend prior, you have a truck equipment failure, this will give you an available tow unit on Monday for a scheduled employee or a truck to come in for maintenance.  Also by bringing a truck in for maintenance on a Monday, any major problems found within the wrecker can be diagnosed and parts ordered in an effort to prevent downtime waiting for parts on the weekends.  We at H.A.R. lubricate and grease our wrecker bodies every thirty days and immediately after each significant rainfall.  We change the hydraulic filters, the first of each year.  You must keep in mind, our fleet trucks put on approximately four to five thousand miles per month, and at every other months service, we put oil and gas additives.  We have a daily truck check-out maintenance list that each employee is responsible for.  He/she is to check out the equipment prior to starting the shift at the beginning of each day. Any equipment failure regardless how small it may seem is documented on the check out sheet and also written on a maintenance board for repair.

Alcohol And Driving

Drinking alcohol and then driving is a very serious problem. People who drink alcohol are involved in traffic crashes resulting in thousands of deaths every year. You should know:

          How alcohol works in the human body.

          How alcohol affects driving.

          Laws regarding drinking, drugs, and driving.

          Legal, financial, and satisfy risks of drinking and driving.

You may NEVER drink while on duty nor consume any intoxicating beverage, regardless of its alcoholic content, within 4 hours before going on duty.

Remember-it is illegal to drive a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is 0.04% or greater. However, a BAC below 0.04% does not mean that it is safe or legal to drive.

The Truth About Alcohol

There are many dangerous ideas about the use of alcohol. The driver who believes in these wrong ideas will be more likely to get into trouble. Look at the chart below for some examples.

What Is Considered A Drink?

It is the alcohol in drinks that affect our performance. It does not make any difference whether that alcohol comes from a “couple of beers” or from two glasses of wine or two shots of hard liquor.

All of the following drinks contain the same amount of alcohol:

          A 12-ounce glass of 5% beer.

          A 5-ounce glass of 12% wine.

          A ½ ounce shot of 80 proof liquor.

          How alcohol works. Alcohol goes directly from the stomach into the blood stream. A drinker can control the amount of alcohol which he or she takes in, by having fewer drinks or none. However, the drinker cannot control how fast the body gets rid of alcohol. If you have drinks faster than your body can get rid of them, you will have more alcohol in your body and your driving will be more affected. The amount of alcohol in your body is commonly measured by the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

          What Determines BAC. BAC  is determined by the amount of alcohol that you drink (more alcohol means more BAC), how fast you drink (faster drinking means higher BAC), and your weight ( a small person does not have to drink as much to reach the same BAC as a larger person).

          Alcohol and the Brain. Alcohol affects more and more of the brain as BAC builds up. The first part of the brain affected controls judgment and self-control. One of the bad things about this is it can keep drinkers from knowing they are getting drunk. And, of course, good judgment and self-control are absolutely necessary for safe driving.

          As BAC continues to build, muscle control, vision, and coordination are affected more and more. Eventually, a person will pass out.

          How Alcohol Affects Driving

All drivers are affected by drinking alcohol. Alcohol affects judgment, vision, coordination, and reaction time. It causes serious driving errors, such as:

                   Driving in the wrong lane.

                   Running over the curb.

                   Weaving.

                   Driving between lanes.

                   Quick, jerky starts.

                   Not signaling, failing to use lights.

                   Running stop signs and red lights.

                   Improper passing.

                   Being over cautious.

                   Driving too quickly or too slowly.

SPEED AND STOPPING DISTANCES

There are three things that add up to total stopping distance: Perception Distance + Reaction Distance + Braking Distance = Total Stopping Distance.  

          Perception distance.  This is the distance your vehicle moves from the time your eyes see a hazard until your brain knows it.  The perception time for an alert driver is about ¾ second.  At 55 mph you travel 60 feet in ¾ second.  

          Reaction distance.  The distance traveled from the time your brain tells your foot to move from the accelerator until your foot is actually pushing the brake pedal.  The average driver has a reaction time of ¾ second.  This accounts for an additional 60 feet traveled at 55mph.

          Braking distance.  The distance it takes to stop once the brakes are put on.  At 55mph on dry pavement with good brakes, it can take a heavy vehicle about 170 feet to stop.  (About ¾ seconds.)

          Total stopping distance.  At 55mph it will take about 6 seconds to stop and your vehicle will travel about the distance of a football field (60+60+170=290 feet).  

Control and Stopping Requirements

The service brakes of every motor vehicle or combination of vehicles must be capable of stopping from an initial speed of 20 miles per hour as follows:

MSD (Maximum Stopping Distance in feet)

Passenger vehicle- 25MSD

Single motor vehicle with manufacturer’s GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds- 30 MSD

Single motor vehicle with manufacturer’s GVWR of 10,000 pounds or more, or any bus- 40MSD

Combination of vehicles consisting of a passenger vehicle or any motor vehicle with a manufacturer’s GVWM of less than 10,000 pounds in combination with any trailer, semi trailer, or trailer couch- 40MSD

All other combinations of vehicles- 50MSD

The effect of speed on stopping distance.

When you double your speed, it will take about four times the distance to stop and the vehicle will have four times the destructive power if it crashes.  High speeds increase stopping distances greatly.  By slowing down a little, you can gain a lot in reducing braking distance.  

The effect of vehicle weight on stopping distance.

If a vehicle is heavier, brakes have to work harder (and absorb more heat) to stop.  The brakes, tires, springs, and shock absorbers on heavy vehicles are designed to work best when the vehicle is fully loaded.  Generally, empty trucks require greater stopping distance because an empty vehicle has less traction.  It can bounce and lock up its wheels, giving much poorer braking.  (This is not usually the case with buses.)  

MOTOR CARRIER PERMITS

Any person who operates any commercial motor vehicle either for hire or privately (not for hire) must obtain a motor carrier permit (MCP).

The MCP definition for a commercial motor vehicle is any:

          Self-propelled vehicle

          Motor truck with two or more axles weighing more than 10,000lbs.

          Other motor vehicle used to transport property for hire.  

Note:  An MCP commercial motor vehicle does not include vehicles operated by household goods carriers, pickup trucks, or two-axle daily rental trucks (noncommercial use) weighing less than 26,001 lbs. gross.

To obtain MCP forms and information, contact www.dmv.ca.gov or write or call:

          DMV MCP M/S G875

          PO Box 932370

          Sacramento, CA 94232-3700

          (916) 657-8153

DRIVER’S RECORD OF DUTY STATUS

A driver’s record of duty status must be used to record all of the driver’s hours.  Drivers or commercial vehicles must be in compliance with the hours of service requirements of the code of Federal Regulations and the California Code of Regulations.  

A driver’s record of duty status, in duplicate, must be kept by each driver and each co-driver while driving, on duty but not driving, or resting in a sleeper berth.  The record of duty status must be presented for inspection immediately upon request by any authorized highway patrol employee, any regularly employed and salaried police officer, or deputy sheriff.  There may be instances when you do not need to maintain a record of duty status.  

BUSINESS MANAGEMENT

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Sexual harassment is a violation of both state and federal law. Sexual harassment consists of any unwelcome sexual advances, requesting, sexual favors, and other verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

                   Submission to such conduct is made a term or condition of an individual’s employment.

                   Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting that individual.

                   Conduct has a purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

                   Forms of sexual harassment include the following:

                   Verbal harassment such as derogatory comments, jokes, or slurs.

                   Physical harassment such as unnecessary or offensive touching or impeding/blocking movement of another individual.

                   Visual harassment such as derogatory or offensive posters, cards, calendars, cartoons, drawings or gestures about one’s appearance.

Always keep in mind the importance of conducting yourself professionally. Do not place yourself or others in situations where they feel humiliated by gestures or verbal comments, generally made in fun that could be considered sexual harassment.

ROAD RAGE

Increasing numbers of motorists have started acting out their anger behind the wheel of a car. When the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety studied more than 10,000 incidents of violent, aggressive driving that occurred between 1990 and 1996, they found that at least 218 people were killed and another 12,610 were injured from such road rage incidences.

Although many of the incidents involve men between the ages of 18 and 26, anyone can become aggressive if they allow their anger take precedence over safe driving. The reasons given by drivers for these life-threatening encounters are often incredibly trivial, such as “She wouldn’t let me pass” or “They kept tailgating me.”

How can we avoid being victims or perpetrators of road rage? There are a few basic tips that will greatly improve your chances of arriving at your destination calmly and safely.

Create a non-offensive game plan

Surveys show that a few offending behaviors account for an unusual amount of anger from other drivers:

Don’t cut others off. Use your turn signals and give yourself plenty of room to merge into the appropriate lane. If you accidentally cut someone off, try to make an apologetic gesture to the other driver. If someone cuts you off, slow down and give them room.


Free up the “fast lane.” If you are in the “fast lane” and someone wants to pass, move over and let them by. You may be traveling at the speed limit, but you may also be putting yourself in danger by making the driver(s) behind you angry.

No Tailgating. No one likes to be followed too closely. If you think another car is driving too slowly and you are unable to pass, pull back and allow more space, not less. Should the car do something unexpected you’ll have time to get out of the way. If you feel you are being followed too closely, signal and pull over to allow the driver to go by. You should be able to see the headlights of the car behind you in the rear view mirror.

Gesture with care. Everyone knows that obscene gestures are infuriating. But even seemingly harmless gestures like shaking your head can anger another driver.

Be courteous. Signal whenever appropriate and let other drivers merge in front of you. Use your horn to warn of possible hazards, not to express your displeasure with a driver.

Don’t Go There

An angry driver can’t start a fight alone. You can protect yourself against aggressive drivers by following these tips:

Refusing to engage. A person who is angry can do things they later regret, including you. Think about the consequences your hostile actions could cause then cool down and continue on your way.

Get some distance. Give angry drivers lots of room. Put as much distance as possible between your vehicle and theirs. Do not, under any circumstances, pull off to the side of the road and try to settle things “man to man.”

Avoid eye contact. If another driver is acting angry with you, do not make eye contact. A look can turn an impersonal encounter into a personal duel.

Seek help. If you believe another driver is following you or trying to start a fight, get help. If you have a cellular phone, use it to call the police. If a phone is unavailable, drive to a police station. Do not get out of your car and do not go home.

Free Your Mind

The most important actions you can take to avoid a road rage incident take place inside your head. By changing your approach, you can make every road trip more pleasant.

Make time good, don’t make good time. Allow plenty of time for your trip. Listen to soothing music or a book on tape. Take slow, deep breaths during the drive and you will arrive much calmer and fresher.

It’s nothing personal. Instead of judging the other driver, try to imagine why he or she is driving that way. Someone speeding and changing lanes may be a fire fighter or physician en route to the hospital. Someone who jerks from one lane to another may have a bee in the car or a crying baby. Whatever their reason, it has nothing to do with you.

Tamper with your temper. Look for anger management courses in your area, or self-help books on anger and stress reduction. Drivers who successfully “reinvent” their approach to the road report dramatic changes in attitude and behavior.

Road rage is definitely on the rise, but by using these tips, you can avoid becoming a victim and may find that driving has become a much more pleasant and enjoyable experience.

ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?

Most people think they are good listeners.  All too often, we find ourselves waiting for the other person to finish speaking so we have the opportunity to express what is on our mind.  Therefore, we are not actively listening to the message the other person is trying to convey.

Mortimer Alder, noted philosopher, professor and author, had these words to say about the subject: 

          Listening is not a passive activity.  Unless your mind as well as your ear is involved, you aren’t really listening.  Your job is to reach out and catch what is in the mind of the speaker just as the catcher in a baseball game must actively stretch for the ball the pitcher has just thrown.

A good listener is not distracted by the speaker’s mannerisms or tone of voice.  Your goal is to understand the intentions of the speaker.  What is this person trying to tell you?  Get in the habit of checking for clarity by repeating back your interpretation of the conversation.  For example, “Are you saying that         ?” filling in the blank with what you heard.  If the speaker agrees, you have been an active role in the conversation and clearly understand the others point of view. To agree before you understand what the other person has said is meaningless - to disagree before you understand is discourteous.

EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION

From the Employee perspective:

You are an extension of your boss. You forget, the better the company does, the better off you and your family will be. You are a team member. You are the company. If your team leader (owner) does not see this, then bring it to his or her attention. Do not think that the boss is out to get you. The team needs you. The team can not exceed without you giving us 110%.. We need you to be there on time. We need you give us 110% all the time, every day.  Even on your days off, if you are doing what you must at the best of your ability, you will come back to the team, rested and capable of doing the very best job you can. We need to know your driving safe equipment. We want you to keep your equipment clean and looking professional because it is a reflection of your personality.

From the Employor perspective:

How to motivate employee.

How to recognize problems in the ranks.

Questions commonly asked:

          How do I get my employees to do check outs of my equipment?

          How do I get them to wash the trucks?

          How do I get them to come in on time?

          How do I get them to do the job I need them to do?

Answers:

Do you remember when you were an employee? Do you remember the things your boss did that made you less self-motivated? Was criticism a crippling method of identifying errors within the organization? These are not employees – they are an extension of you, of your family. They are your future! They are team members!

They can make you or break you! Its not my truck its their truck. You have the power to make them feel equal and to be an equal part of the team. Yes, it is your team. Yes, it is your future. Yes, it is your retirement. Fear does not work. Criticism is not effective. When was the last time you took one of your team members out for dinner or over to your house for an evening? Why? You need them, they are a part of your team. They need to know you are backing them up 100%, they need to know that their families will have support, they need to know that they have a secure future with you, that their paychecks will not bounce at the end of each pay period, and their families will not go hungry.


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