Friday, November 30, 2007

More Info on NUG

Here's the link to a release from the Montgomery County (MD) Department of Public Works and Transportation where the National Unified Goal (NUG) was launched. Don't know what NUG is? Read the release here.
Read the Nov. 20 TowBlog post below.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hall of Fame Nomination Deadline 12/31/07

Do you know a man or woman involved in the towing industry worthy of international recognition? Help them get the acknowledgment and thanks he or she deserves. Nominate this outstanding person for the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame, the highest honor for anyone involved in the towing industry.

A nomination form is available in the Fall 2007 museum newsletter, The Museum View, or download a PDF version online at

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vent for the day

In this story from the Journal and Courier Online, a Purdue University student is suing an Indiana towing company for removing his illegally-parked car from an apartment complex. Read the full story here.

Of course, the towing company is being called "predatory" - no matter that the student infringed on someone else's rights by leaving his car in resident-only parking. (Hmmm... Shouldn't he also sue the hosts of the party he attended for not telling him where to park?) He's suing for three times the amount of the tow.

And, let's not forget about the Councilman-elect who is supporting the student in his endeavor because he is working "to improve student life in West Lafayette." Wow - that's lofty.

Let's hope that the judge helps this student learn one a really important life lesson - taking responsibility for your actions.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is this the best that CNN and AOL could do?

Ok, I'm not knocking the whole article because it's actually one that DOESN'T slam the towing industry. However, it is by CNN/AOL Autos... Out of all of the professionals in the industry nationwide, they could only find one guy in Virginia who doesn't even work full-time as a wrecker operator AND would prefer to remain anonymous? Jeez, at least they gave the International Towing Hall of Fame and Museum a picture. Read the full story here.

Extrication Fest 2008 Announced

What: Extrication Fest Presented By The Emergency Services Training Institute of the Texas Engineering Extension Services (a member of the Texas A&M University System) and Midsouth Rescue Technologies.

When: March 14-16, 2008

Where: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, TX

Fee: Courses Range from $125 to $150 (see website for details)

  • Three levels of Auto Extrication Training
  • Big Rig Rescue
  • Patient Care
  • Scene Management
  • Supplemental Restraint System Technology
  • Hybrid Vehicle Anatomy and Extrication
  • Expo includes live demos, training exhibits, and free classes

For more information and registration, visit

Update on "Condolences" post

On 10/4, I posted a story about 26-year old Canadian tow truck driver Amanda Frizzley who was killed on Sept. 30 when her Dr. Hook truck was hit by an oncoming GMC Jimmy. The 21-year old driver of the Jimmy, whose blood alcohol level was over the legal limit, was arrested for his role in Frizzley's death. Read the full story here.

Too bad this trailer isn't in Ontario!

In Florida, OC's Auto & Truck Service removed a mobile home that had been left on the side of the road. The dilapidated trailer is flea-infested and the owners are nowhere to be found - nice! Read the full story here.

Ontario Stepping In to Help Towing Companies

According to this story in Today's Trucking Online, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation has agreed to pay towing companies for bills incurred after accidents when the owners don't.

Tow Trucks Off the Hook: MTO guarantees payment
TORONTO -- Doug Nelson, the executive director of the association representing Ontario's tow-truck industry, brought some good news to the recent Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) annual conference.

He said that the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has decided to guarantee payment to tow truck operators, even if the people involved in an accident renege on the bill or skip town. Or don't have insurance. Or write rubber cheques.

The new policy to guarantee tow trucks payments
will speed up highway reopening: MTO
Non-payment has been a huge issue in the tow-truck business. Nelson says that in recent years, as many as 20 or 30 percent of tows never get paid for a whole variety of reasons and the result was, many Ontario tow operators were becoming reluctant to respond to callouts. Or if they did respond and couldn't get paid up front, would refuse the job.

This new MTO guarantee will end that reluctance, Nelson -- who heads up the Ontario Recovery Group (ORG) -- told the conference.

Now, if a qualified tow-truck company doesn't get paid within 30 days of the invoice, the Ministry will step in, pay the bill, adding surcharges and fees, and then will try to collect the money from the responsible parties.

To qualify for the program, the tow-truck operators must meet specific criteria. The operator must first complete and sign an MTO contract and be approved by the MTO; the tow operator has to try to collect the invoice and the effort must be documented, and the operator must promise to try to help the MTO recover the outstanding debt if the Ministry requests.

The program only applies to accidents that happen on provincial highways and for accidents involving vehicles with a GVWR of 6,000 kg or more.

According to a spokesman from the MTO, the new program is all part of the plan to speed up the re-opening of highways after collisions. To that end, the Ministry has struck a working group with the trucking industry, the tow-truckers and the police to study other ways to clear accidents faster.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tow Truck vs. Pool

Pool loses. In a story from Worcester, MA, an unmanned tow truck took a roll down from the top of a steep street and ended up slamming through a white picket fence and into an above-ground pool.
Nobody was injured in the mishap, but pool owner Lucien M. Tuluka, of 6 Lorraine Road, won’t be taking a dip anytime soon. The heavy tow truck buckled one side of the round pool, allowing some water to gush out and run down the street.

Mr. Tuluka said a small amount of the escaped pool water seeped into his basement but didn’t cause any damage.

He was in the basement about 2:45 p.m. when he heard an odd rumbling noise coming from above, he said. It sounded as if his wife was moving furniture upstairs. About five minutes later, when he went upstairs, he caught a glimpse of something big and red through a side window.

“I saw a red car in the pool. I said, ‘Oh, my God. What movie is this?’ ” Mr. Tuluka said.
Evidently, it took another tow truck to drag the other out of the pool and back to the road.
Read the whole story from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette News here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanks for stopping by in Baltimore!

Nice to see everyone at the show in Baltimore this past weekend. Thanks to all of you who stopped by the Towing & Recovery Footnotes booth to pick up a copy of the November issue and to chat with me and the Footnotes crew.

Hey! We CAN all just get along! While these two rivals might have opposing views on who has the best products, they can agree that Footnotes is tops!
On the left, we have Erik Stewart of Sava Products;
on the right, we have Howard "Scooby" Eagan of MatJack.

National Unified Goal (NUG) Announced by NTIMC

On November 20, the National Traffic Incident Management Coalition (NTIMC) announced its 18-strategy proposal called the National Unified Goal (NUG).

NUG has three goals: 1) Responder safety; 2) Safe, quick clearance; and 3) Prompt, reliable, interoperable communications.

The initiative is endorsed by the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA).

Read more about NTIMC and NUG here.

AAA Launches "Move Over" Campaign

On November 16, AAA announced a year-long awareness campaign promoting "Slow Down, Move Over" laws. According to the press release, 41 states currently have such legislation, but only 24 include tow trucks and other roadside assistance vehicles.

The effort has two primary components. One is enactment in all 50 states of “Move Over” laws that cover tow trucks and other roadside assistance vehicles in addition to law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances. These laws require motorists to change lanes to provide an empty travel lane between their vehicle and emergency vehicles along the roadside, or to slow down while approaching—and passing—a traffic incident, if moving to another lane is not possible.

The second element is a national public awareness campaign that will include the use of public safety announcements and other publicity efforts featuring testimonials from NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver David Ragan. Ragan is the rookie driver of the Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion. His father, Ken Ragan, is a former tow truck driver for AAA. Because race car drivers must “slow down and move over” when an incident occurs on the track, and because of his family experience with the hazards of working along the roadside, Ragan is ideally suited to discuss this topic with race fans and other drivers.

Read the entire AAA press release here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Definitely a HAZMAT situation...

After a cattle truck went into a ditch in Texas, 65 of the 138 animals on board were killed. It took six wrecker loads to dispose of the carcasses. Here's the story in the Times Record News.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yeah, I'd say they were "startled!"

From Palatka, Florida in The Palatka Daily News:

Naked man charged with stealing truck

Employees at Johnson’s Towing were startled Friday morning when a naked man ran onto the business’ property and stole an employee’s truck, authorities said.

According to witnesses, sometime around 10 a.m., the naked man, identified as Wayne Dennis Bolan, 41, came onto the business at 352 N. U.S. 17 and hopped into a pickup truck owned by Dean Johnson, brother of owner Donald Johnson.

“He ran into our lot buck naked and ran straight to my truck,” Dean Johnson said. “One of the guys hollered out, ‘There’s a naked man running through our lot,’ and my brother ran outside. Then the guy cranked the truck and was backing it up.”

Johnson said Bolan spun the tires, shooting gravel everywhere, then crashed into a fence, tearing down the business’ gate.

Dean Johnson said he ran out of the office and jumped into the bed of the truck. At that moment Bolan put the pedal to the floor and began fleeing down U.S. 17.

“I realized what was happening and, like an idiot, I jumped in the back of my truck,” he said. “When he hit the asphalt on 17 I knew that I needed to get out.”

According to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the truck began doing “doughnuts” on 17, spinning around and leaving skid marks on the road.

Realizing that he was in real danger due to Bolan’s erratic driving, Dean Johnson said he picked an instant when the tires were spinning freely to bail out. At that moment, however, the truck caught traction and Johnson was thrown out.

Fortunately, Johnson only suffered some bruises and asphalt burns from the pavement and was quickly picked up by his brother, Donald, who had been following in his own truck.

The brothers pursued the vehicle down State Road 100 west through Palm Avenue, when the truck slowed and turned into the parking lot behind Lowe’s Building Supply.

According to the sheriff’s office, Bolan, having cornered himself, jumped a culvert pipe and crashed the truck into a ditch.

Dean Johnson said he and his brother then pulled the suspect out of the truck.

At that moment, Sheriff’s Maj. Gary Bowling and Sgt. Rodney Harper arrived and handcuffed Bolan, who was then taken by ambulance to Putnam Community Medical Center. While there, he was given clothes and medically cleared for booking.

Bolan was booked into the Putnam County Jail, where he was charged with grand theft auto and simple trespassing. His bond was set at $1,508.

Dean Johnson said his truck, a 1987 model with only 80,000 miles, was totaled.

“It’s just crazy,” he said. “How often does a naked guy run and jump in your truck and leave with it?”