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Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Wishing a safe, happy and prosperous 2008 to all of Towing & Recovery Footnotes' readers and your families! We're looking forward to once again being your best source of news and information for the towing industry in the year ahead.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Here's An Unusual Recovery

Click here to check out this videotaped recovery of a car that ran up a utility pole wire. It's posted on West Seattle Blog.

Christmas Kindnesses

Here's a nice story out of Everett, WA from a lady who received an unexpected helping hand from a tow truck operator. Read it here.

And here's one about Rhode Island's state treasurer Frank T. Caprio who personally reimbursed people who were towed during a Dec. 13 snowstorm. Seems that he spent nearly $30,000 during the two hours he wrote 70 checks for tow bills of up to $100. Read the full story here.

Snow Keeping Tow Companies Busy

There are quite a few stories out there now on how busy tow truck companies are staying with all the snow falling. Here's a sampling:

From Topeka, KS.

From Fond du Lac, WI.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Kids Towed with Car; Family Sues

In this story from the Omaha World-Herald, four children who were left in a car were towed while still in the car in December 2003. According to the article, the family filed a lawsuit against Heartland Towing early this December. Here's an account of what happened:
The Dorseys parked their 1999 Ford Taurus at a meter outside the Douglas County Courthouse, near 19th and Farnam Streets.

They went to court, leaving the children, including a 12-year-old, in the car.

The problem: The meter had a sign indicating vehicles would be towed between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Some meters are marked with those signs to keep traffic lanes clear during rush hour.

About 4:15 p.m., a City of Omaha meter reader put a tow tag on the Taurus and called Heartland, which has a contract to tow cars for the city.
Evidently, the meter reader did not note any children in the vehicle and the tow truck driver did not hear any children. Read the full story here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Update on July post about NYC steam explosion

Some of you may remember the steam pipe explosion in New York City this past July. A tow truck driver and his passenger were severely injured during the incident, but both have been released from the hospital. Seems that the cause of the explosion has been determined - epoxy used to fix a leak caused a clog.

Read the Gothamist story here.

Thanks for keeping it safe out there this NYE!

A hearty round of applause to all of the towing companies across the country who are committed to giving a free tow and ride home to people so they will not drink and drive this holiday season, especially on New Year's Eve!

Here's a story from Stamford, CT.
And another from CT.
And another!
I think CT get top marks for towing coverage!

Here's one about the new program in Augusta, GA.

Here's one company that has offered this service in Mt. Vernon, IL for 21 years.


Here's one from OK.
And one other.

Here's another from PA.

Here's one from MT.


Another from Albany, OR.

One from AL.

From Riverside, CA.

From Pocatello, ID.

And even one from HI.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Funny!

Found at http://funnyjokes4me.blogspot.com:

The minister's car wouldn't start. When the tow truck driver arrived, the minister says, "I hope you go easy on me. You know I'm only a poor preacher."
"Yep," replied the tow truck driver, "I've heard you preach."

Farewell, Friend

Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Gary Sperling. The MO tower was honored by his friends and acquaintances with a 28+ tow truck procession.

Read the story here.

Another One for the Good Deeds File

Thumbs up to WA tower Bill Sullivan of Liberty Towing and the other towing companies involved! This story is from the Tacoma Daily Index:

Tow to Go is more than a free tow

Fourteen tow truck companies hit the road Friday night in an effort to keep the holiday season safe for all motorists. The operators have teamed up with the Tacoma-Pierce County DUI Task Force to offer free rides home for people who have had too much to drink. They're also offering to tow their cars.

The program will run through New Year's Eve.

Organizers kicked the service off Friday in conjunction with the Night of Thousand Stars, a statewide emphasis targeting impaired drivers. The stars represent the more than 1,000 badges worn by officers who will be patrolling Washington's roadways in extra force beginning this weekend.

"Notoriously this is the biggest holiday party weekend of the month," said Bill Sullivan, owner of Liberty Towing and primary organizer of the program. If that celebration takes place in any of the county's 600 bars or taverns and results in someone becoming impaired, bartenders have been given information how to contact a participating tower. Patrons of licensed establishments in the area can obtain information from the bartenders.

All of the tow operators forfeit profits in order to make sure that the roadways remain safe over the holidays. Gig Harbor Police Chief Mike Davis, who chairs the Tacoma Pierce County DUI Task Force, said the program represents a holiday gift to the community of the highest value. "This is the gift of life," he said.

Program participants include Engel's Towing, Puyallup Towing, B-Line Towing, J&J Towing, Gene’s Towing, Bill's Towing, Burn’s Towing, Emerald Towing, Liberty Towing, Bayview Towing, Fife Towing, Western Towing, Tacoma Towing and Lakewood Towing.

Towing Companies/Starbucks Help Cops Reward Good Drivers

In Rancho Cordova, CA, some good drivers will be getting pulled over this holiday season - and rewarded with a $5 Starbucks card. Fast Response Towing, Allfam Towing, LJ's Towing and Central Valley Towing are sponsoring the program with Starbucks.

Read the story here.

Found Under "Weird News"

The body of a 72-year old woman was found inside a car that had been towed from an crash scene in CA. Her son had been rescued from the wreck after the incident. He apparently told rescue workers that he was driving alone, and no one bothered to actually look into the vehicle. According to the story in the LA Daily News, the woman was hidden under a deployed air bag in the passenger seat. Police are trying to determine how the woman was overlooked and whether she had died at the scene or afterwards. Yikes.

Read the full story here.

Move It Over, Please!

In this article from the Lloydminster Merdian Booster, Canadian rescue workers have been asking the motoring public to give them some space, but no one seems to be listening.
Both Saskatchewan and Alberta have laws forcing drivers to slow down to 60 kilometers per hour when passing emergency vehicles such as ambulances, fire trucks, rescue vehicles and tow trucks. Despite an Alberta government radio campaign and signs posted along the Yellowhead, including one right outside of Lloydminster, it seems many motorists are not getting the message.
“There are a lot of people I come across who don’t know to slow down to 60 km an hour,” said Const. Harry Therrien of the Kitscoty RCMP.
Education isn’t the only problem. Police often have a difficult time enforcing the law, especially when there’s only one patrol car on scene where the officer is busy attending to the injured and carrying out their investigation.
Read the full story here.

FL's Successful Rapid Incident Scene Clearance Likely to be Expanded

A round of applause is certainly due to the Florida towing companies involved in this!

Due to its success, Florida's Rapid Incident Scene Clearance program will be expanded next summer. In this excellent story by Chuck McGinness of the Palm Beach Post:
Towing companies that earn bonuses for clearing major wrecks on Florida's Turnpike in 90 minutes or less have achieved a 98 percent success rate since the program started four years ago.

Can that number be duplicated on more heavily traveled Interstate 95?




About 45 towing operators, Florida Highway Patrol troopers and state officials met Wednesday to discuss the problems that need to be solved before the state-sponsored quick clearance program is set up on I-95 and other interstate highways next summer.

"There's a strong push to move this program forward based on the success on the turnpike," said Bob Murphy, a traffic management consultant for the state.

Known as Rapid Incident Scene Clearance, the program is only used for major wrecks that can close the highway or block lanes for an extended period. The towing companies need to have advanced certification and high-powered equipment to move big rigs. They earn bonuses up to $3,500 for meeting the 90-minute target and pay penalties if they don't.

The key to making the program work is communication and training, said FHP Capt. Brad Pelton.

"If everyone knows what's going on, it makes it a lot easier," said Pelton, commander of the turnpike's West Palm Beach district. "You need to make sure everyone is talking."

Initially, troopers were hesitant to summon the quick-clear team because of concerns that they would be second-guessed, Pelton said. Now, it's almost second nature when they pull up to a crash, he said.

"The sooner they get there, the sooner the road gets cleaned up, the sooner the road gets opened up and everyone is happy," he said.

The Rapid Incident Scene Clearance program is an offshoot of the "open roads" policy that was adopted by the Department of Transportation and FHP in 2002. Cutting the time that the highway is shut down can save millions in lost time and productivity for motorists stuck in long backups. The value of the savings can range from $15 an hour for the average commuter to $70 an hour for commercial vehicles, transportation officials say.

It also decreases secondary crashes and reduces the number of law enforcement officers and tow truck operators injured or killed while working a crash. On the turnpike, the duration of serious crashes has been cut about 30 minutes.

Read the full story here.


Sad news...

Come on, people! Wear those seatbelts!

A unidentified CA tow truck driver was killed this week when his truck hit a center highway divider for unknown reasons. He was ejected from the vehicle. It did not appear that he was wearing a seat belt. Read the full story here.

For the Good Deeds file

In this story from the Chicago Tribune online, an unnamed Illinois Department of Transportation "minuteman" driver used the fire extinguisher from his tow truck to put out a pickup truck when it caught fire after slamming into the back of a semi on the side of the road. The tow truck driver had stopped to help the disabled semi. The pickup's driver was trapped under the dashboard in his wrecked for more than an hour before rescue workers could cut him free. Read the whole story here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Record Number of Towers Attend Meeting on IL Legislation



Hosted by Worldwide Equipment Sales, the December 13 zone meeting of the Professional Towing and Recovery Operators of Illinois drew a crowd of over 200 towers representing 120 towing companies from Illinois and Indiana. The meeting concerned the latest towing company regulations established by the state of Illinois, known as the "Truth in Towing Act."
According to Bill Gratzianna (second-vice president of the PTROI ), “This was the largest turnout at a PTROI meeting in recent memory." Towers listened to Bill Howard (PTROI president ) [Pictured above] & Joe Pedigro (PTROI Legislative Chair ) present all the facts pertaining to the new law , they also answered the rather large volume of questions from the group.
Learn more about the PTROI at www.ptroi.org.

Fuel Costs Crushing MA Towing Companies...

...with no relief in sight from the Department of Public Utilities, according to a recent press release from the Statewide Towing Association or STA.

“The effect of this has been devastating to our industry. The towing industry in Massachusetts is comprised mostly of very small “Mom and Pop” operators”, said William Johnson, President of the Statewide Towing Association, an organization representing many of the State’s towers in Massachusetts. “These operators have been handcuffed by the inaction of the DPU. While operating costs have skyrocketed with the higher fuel costs, state regulators have been unable to develop a fair system for developing a fuel surcharge. Without approval by state regulators, the towing industry is unable to adjust to compensate for the higher fuel prices.”

Read the full press release and timeline of action here.
Learn more about the Statewide Towing Association at www.statewidetowing.org. To learn more about the fuel surcharge issue, contact William Johnson at bill@gogtt.com or call 413-575-3104.

EPA Blocks States on Emission Rules

This story from the New York Times was found on AOL News: CA and 16 other states have been denied the right to set their own standards for automobile carbon dioxide emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA.

The emissions standards California proposed in 2004 — but never approved by the federal government — would have forced automakers to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in new cars and light trucks by 2016, with the cutbacks to begin in 2009 models.

That would have translated into roughly 43 miles per gallon for cars and some light trucks and about 27 miles per gallon for heavier trucks and sport utility vehicles.

The new federal law will require automakers to meet a 35-mile-per-gallon fleetwide standard for cars and trucks sold in the United States by 2020. It does not address carbon dioxide emissions, but such emissions would be reduced as cars were forced to become more fuel efficient.

California’s proposed rules had sought to address the impact of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from cars and trucks that scientists say contribute to the warming of the planet.
Read the full story here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter Publicity - Examples

Think YOU can't take advantage of any good press opportunities? (See the post below). Here's a great example:

In this story from The Chronicle-Telegram of Ohio, Dave Vaughn Jr. of D&A Towing in South Amherst had one of his trucks wrecked by a runaway car in February. However, he's received some local attention now, thanks to winter weather. The story had quotes from Dave Hall of Hall’s Towing in Avon and Butch Tomazine of Fritz’s Garage in Lorain, as well.

Additonally, kudos to writer Jason Hawk who pointed out Ohio's "Move Over" laws and put in information from Harriet Cooley of TRAA. Nice!

Other mentions:
From Terre Haute, IN
From Milford, MA
From Columbia, MO

Friday, December 14, 2007

Promote Your Professionalism!

Winter Publicity Tips

If you’re looking to promote the professional image of your towing company, Mother Nature is your ally. Right now, many parts of the country are dealing with mounds of snow and layers of ice that make driving treacherous – and tow truck companies super busy.

It’s an ideal time to tell the story of your hardworking employees who are out there for hours on end in the cold. Let your community know how your company is rescuing stranded motorists, jumpstarting cars with dead batteries and unlocking cars that people have left running to warm up.

Today, I (and several thousand others) received a daily e-newsletter for journalists called “Al’s Morning Meeting.” Al Tompkins, the broadcast/online group leader for Poynter Online, listed a number of great ideas for news people covering winter storms.

Tompkins included tips from Tom Linder, news director at KARE-11 TV in Minneapolis, MN. Here’s one:

“Go to the impound lot. One way to do this story is to hang a wireless mic on the person working at the impound lot who has to suffer the abuse of people whose cars have been towed because they parked on snow routes. The people who show up to claim their cars have had to find a way to get to the lot. In Minneapolis, they have to pay nearly $175 in penalties and towing charges. On top of that, there could be impound fees. The people who pay these fees are not happy. Some people just do not hear about approaching storms, despite extensive media coverage, so they don't move their cars from snow plow routes.”

Talk about an easy and no-cost way to get some attention for your company! Call your local news stations. Extend the invitation to a reporter to come out to your office and put a mic on your car release person. Offer to let a reporter work the release desk and experience a day in your shoes.

There may even be a reporter in your area who already goes out and does someone’s regular job for the day. Offer to have him or her ride with you or your top driver to see the variety of work, from winch-outs to wrecks and everything in between, which occurs in one snowy day.

Here’s another tip that Linder offered to fellow news people:

“Consider packaging a bunch of user-generated videos into one showcased story. This is especially useful when you are short on photojournalists because they are out on live shots or snow duty. Do your best to verify who sent the videos; verify that the videos are legitimate. Give the contributors credit. Tell the story of the people who bothered to send it to you.”

Do your operators carry the latest and greatest phones that shoot pictures and video? Put them to good use! Email pictures and videos of events that your drivers see while out on the road in the snow all day. Make sure to include all of your contact information so the news people can verify the contributions and attribute them accurately. I love his last line: “Tell the story of the people who bothered to send it to you.” Let them tell your story!

Journalists are looking for stories now, so be available when they call. Make sure your office people know that they can give out your cell phone number to news people. You may be really busy now, but you need to make the time to grab a great opportunity for some positive and free publicity.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tree Cutter Comes to Towers' Rescue

This story about a tree cutter who jumped into action with a chain saw and saved two men who were trapped inside a tow truck after falling trees crushed the cab comes from The Daily World of WA. Read it here.

Kudos to AAA Tidewater (VA)

Their "Tow to Go" program for tipsy drivers is being co-sponsored by Anheuser-Bush and Hoffman Beverage Company. According to the story on HamptonRoads.com:

Created with the stubborn intoxicated driver - the one who would rather risk lives than leave a stupid car in a stupid parking lot over night - in mind, Tow to Go offers a free tow and ride home to anyone who may have had one too many.
Read the full story here.

"How the Grinch Towed Christmas"

Gotta say it... Bad headline for this story in the The Standard of Maclenny, FL about a private property towing incident prior to a parade, especially since it seems that Kenny and Kirk Miracle of Miracle Towing and Recovery went waaay above and beyond (see highlights I made in the story below). Should have been "How Two Miracles Saved Christmas."

How the Grinch towed Christmas


Twenty-five automobiles lined the outskirts of a parking lot on Friday night. By Saturday quite a few less faced Macclenny Avenue. Instead some early parking parade goers found their vehicles lined along side a fence in a tow yard, instead of a front row seat they thought they occupied.

Some found themselves a little confused when they arrived in the CVS Pharmacy parking lot on Saturday, only to find the vehicle they parked early to avoid the crowd was gone, towed at the request of CVS Management.

Kenny and Kirk Miracle of Miracle Towing and Recovery pulled into the parking lot of the local pharmacy late Friday night ready to tow over 25 vehicles that took up well over one third of the parking lot. When they recognized several of the vehicles they called the owners and informed them that their car/ truck was next to go. A total of four cars were towed on Friday night and two more on Saturday morning.

When Kirk Miracle got the call, he and his brother both knew the appropriate signs had to be displayed stating that the parking lot was a tow away zone. Miracle relayed to a store manager that by Florida law before you tow vehicles, signs were to be placed around the property so that owners would not call law enforcement to report their vehicles stolen. However, the management insisted that his company tow the vehicles before the signs were up.

Several signs were placed on the property letting drivers know the parking lot was a tow area zone, but it was to late for six owners. When word spread that vehicles were being towed many rushed to recover theirs before it was carted away.

As for the six that 'didn't get away,' Miracle cut them a deal and only charged $45 in fees. CVS management did not return our calls.

NJ May Enact "Move Over" Law

Thumbs up to Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Denville, who sponsored bill S2422, which is called the "Move Over Act." Tow trucks are included! Here's the story from Land Line Magazine:
‘Move Over’ rule sought in New Jersey

A practice followed by professional truck drivers for decades would become law for all drivers in New Jersey in a bill that could come up for consideration in the final month of the regular legislative session. The proposal is designed to protect emergency personnel and certain vehicles during roadside stops.

Sponsored by Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Denville, the bill would require drivers to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed before passing emergency vehicles, tow trucks or highway maintenance vehicles parked by the road with their lights flashing.

Dubbed the “Move Over Act,” the bill would require drivers to merge into a lane further away from emergency vehicles, tow trucks or highway maintenance vehicles, if practical. On two-lane highways, drivers would be required to reduce speed before passing.

Failure to obey the rule would result in up to a $500 fine.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 30 states have implemented similar safety zone rules.

The bill – S2422 – is awaiting consideration on the Senate floor. If approved there, it would move to the Assembly. All legislation must pass both chambers prior to the end of the regular session, which is scheduled for Jan. 8.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
keith_goble@landlinemag.com

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

$450,000 due to MI Towing Co.

Interesting story out of Flint, MI. In August 2004, the mayor canceled the city's towing contract with Complete Towing and the city started its own impound lot. Complete Towing had served the city for 18 years.

From The Flint Journal story:

The lawsuit itself is over storage fees because 286 cars were left until late November at Complete Towing, owned by Jim Patton, after Williamson canceled the contract in August.

A jury agreed in December 2005 that the city owed a $10 daily storage fee for each car, plus attorney fees and interest. The total verdict then was $406,103.

The city now must pay $453,549 because of additional interest incurred while the city appealed the earlier verdict.

"Mayor Williamson is fighting this personal battle with Jim Patton with taxpayer money," said Steven Spender, an attorney for Complete Towing. "That irritates me and that should irritate the taxpayers."

Spender said he does not know why Williamson has a "vendetta" against Patton. Patton declined comment.