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Tow Truck Operators – Unforgotten First Responders

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
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Tow truck drivers are considered first responders at an automobile accident scene and sometimes they are the only responder to broken down vehicle calls.

This is why tow truck drivers not only need to be vehicle recovery specialists; they must also have an experts’ grasp on the “rules of the side of the road”.

A broken down vehicle on a busy highway is a dicey situation, so when a vehicle is stranded by way of an accident or a mechanical failure it’s imperative that tow truck drivers are fully trained and well prepared to handle the risks that come with working in this dangerous environment.  

What are the basics of towing safety?

Know Your Truck

It’s critical for tow truck drivers to keep a well maintained truck and perform regular inspections before and after their shifts. Of course, there are laws and regulations that apply to tow trucks and they vary from state to state, so be sure you’re in compliance. In addition, drivers must know the towing capacity of their truck and be able to assess on the spot the ability of their truck to perform the job.

On Scene Safety

When tow truck drivers are called to the scene of an accident or a broken down vehicle, they are often the first responders to arrive so they must have a firm understanding of how to create the safest environment possible for themselves as well as other first responders and people at the scene.

Here’s how tow truck drivers can keep the side of the road safe for themselves and others:

Secure the scene: Arrive with emergency lights on and keep them on for the duration of the call. If possible, place cones or flares to mark the scene and alert drivers passing by that there is a hazard present. Always keep an eye towards passing traffic and expect the unexpected.

Use Safety Equipment: In order to make themselves visible to cars passing by, tow truck drivers should always wear a reflective vest that adheres to standards set by the American Standards Institute. A reflective helmet also serves to increase visibility of the tow truck driver and protects their head from gear and cables when hooking up a vehicle. Gloves should always be work to protect hands from steel cables.

Communicate: Some vehicle retrieval scenes may be too dangerous to navigate. In such a circumstance a driver should communicate with their employer or dispatch operator to alert them to the potential danger and ensure that optimal safety procedures are followed.

Proper Loading

Appropriate technique is critical in loading a disabled vehicle. Proper use of towing equipment, ensuring the vehicle is centered on the bed of the tow truck, and assessing the surrounding risks (electrical lines or overhanging tree limbs or signs) are all important factors to be aware of before loading a vehicle.

Tow truck drivers are more than just drivers; they are vehicle recovery experts whose actions will impact their own safety as well as the safety of others in potentially dangerous situations. For more information and resources on training your tow truck drivers take a look at the International Institute of Towing and Recovery.

To protect your business and your employees, The Horton Group has specialized in providing customers with quality Towing Operator Insurance Programs for 25 years.  Our program offers all lines of coverage including Workers’ Compensation insurance.  We can customize it to fit your needs including garage keepers liability, cargo, employee crime coverage and more! 

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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