Making Progress


Move Over

In this article, I want to address two very important topics for the towing industry.  I want to talk about the “Move Over” laws, and the next-generation tower.  I traveled a lot over the past two years, and I was surprised and encouraged by how many motorists would move over when they saw a vehicle on the side of the road.  For years, our industry has been trying to address the “Move Over” laws because too many tow operators have been killed while providing towing services for someone on the side of the road. 

I know the national association is trying to address the “Move Over” laws, and many state associations are doing the same.  I was at a trade show recently, and I met gentlemen from Maryland who had a company that engineered the cameras on traffic lights to catch people running red lights.  He told me he was contracted by the state of Maryland to do the same by engineering a camera for a tow truck or police vehicle, so they can catch people that don’t move over when approaching vehicles on the side of the road. 

The state of Maryland realized that too many people were getting hit by passing vehicles that could have been avoided by moving over.  His company is trying to push this new feature into as many states as possible.  He does not have the connections in other states that can make this happen.  I put him in touch with the New Jersey state association because they are working on legislation that would address the “Move Over” law.

Little things are being done like one state who made it illegal to be on a cell phone when passing construction areas.  I guess that is a start, but we must take it to the next level.  The person from Maryland needs your help with connections to your state legislative offices.  He feels strongly that other states will adopt his program if he can make some legislative connections in other states.  If your association can help let me know.  Get in touch with Tow Professional magazine, and they will make sure I get the message.

Looking for Drivers

The second topic I want to address is the tow operator of the future.  I bet 80% of the tow companies across the U.S. could use a driver or tow.  Our problem is, we don’t know where they will come from. I’m not sure we can count on this generation to take over the towing industry unless you can operate a truck with a cell phone.  Many parents will be disappointed in the future when their children tell them they don’t want to be in the towing industry. 

The Montana Towing association invited me to their annual state tow show a few months ago as a speaker.  I did a three-hour class relating to business side of towing.  It started out great, but it did not take long for them to bring up their biggest concern, which was where do we get the future drivers to support our industry.  If you have been watching the political debates most of the candidates want everyone to go to college. 

I agree that education is needed to have a good job in the future, but not everyone is cut out for college.  I remember back in the sixties when I graduated high school.  I realized then college was not for me, so I went to a trade school and got introduced to the computer industry when I learned about programming and computer operations.  It was a six-month long course, and it got me my first job as a computer operator in the banking industry.  I stayed in that field for over 20 years before I got into towing. 

At my class in Montana, the subject of trade schools came up and about 45 of us started talking about trade schools for our industry.  There was good feedback, and we came up with a few ideas on how to go about doing it.  The problem is that it takes money and a few good people to put it together.  We had a few volunteers that would work on this project if we could come up with some funding. 

It seems like state and national associations emphasize testing towers and not enough time on creating tower. Associations are looking for ways to generate revenue and that’s good, but our industry needs drivers.  I am looking into a program that our government has put in place where they take ex-convicts and introduces them back into society.  They need jobs to make that happen. They would be the perfect candidate for a trade school and a good fit for the industry. When I mention it to tow companies, I always get the following feedback:

  1. Our state does not allow felons.
  2. They can’t be trusted.
  3. They would be a liability to my company.
  4. Appearance could be a problem.
  5. It would be a black mark to the industry.

I will not even mention the other biased and uninformed comments companies came up with.  For the first 45 minutes, I heard no positive comments about how they could help the tow company or the industry.  As the meeting went on, we realized they could have a very positive impact on our industry while addressing a major need. If we market the program properly, here are a few good things that could happen:

  1. It’s a government program, so there may be some money available.
  2. Your customers could appreciate you helping people in need.
  3. Trucking manufactures, I think, would strongly support this program.
  4. Tow companies can hire trained drivers.

In February, I will start looking for a place in Dallas to house the school.  I will be working closely with Southwest Tow Operators association to make this happen.  I need your input and ideas on how we set this school up and what we should offer.  I will also look for instructors to help educate our students.  If successful, we will fill drivers needs all over the U.S.

Concerning drivers moving over in response to the “Move Over” laws, we are seeing good progress, but there is more work to do as we network through the state towing associations.  Help us network.  Also, we are making progress in cultivating the next generation tower, so send us your ideas as we prepare to train a new source for employees giving those who are a good fit for our industry a second chance.