It can be a hazardous working environment for a tow truck driver. Imagine the risks of pulling over to provide assistance on the side of a busy freeway, trying to tow a vehicle or clear an accident, while the traffic is filled with cars which are speeding by. Among them could be irresponsible drivers who may be drunk, distracted or texting while driving.
Towing operators encounter many challenges as well as threats every day when they do their duties. To better defend themselves, it is always preferred to have several safety procedures in place during their duties.
Oncoming Traffic and Vehicles
As the tow truck driver is approaching the broken-down vehicle, they need to slow down and be predictable in movement. So that the other drivers and motorists around can see what is coming. Activate the emergency or hazard lights in order to warn the nearby drivers the activities ahead.
When stopping over in front of a broken-down vehicle, tow truck operators should check the mirrors and look behind before leaving their trucks. They should not turn their backs on the traffic approaching. Go around the front of the broken-down vehicle and walk along the passenger side of the broken-down vehicle.
Work by the Passenger Side
Try to hook the vehicles from the passenger side as often as possible, and work only on the traffic side when there is a necessity. Always watch out and listen attentively to the oncoming traffic. A tip to listen for the traffic is to listen for the rumble strips. Most highways will have them on the hard shoulder. When towing operators hear any sound, they will be aware of an approaching vehicle which has crossed over the white line and be prepared for any imminent dangers.
After the load is hooked up, the towing operator is advised to build some speed before merging into the traffic. Accelerate slowly until the speed is fast enough so the truck will not cause disruption to the flow of the traffic.
During recoveries, there are several factors to consider; heavy vehicles, equipment failure, unseen damages and others. Since towing operators are focused on so many issues, the focus will be diluted. Hence, the first thing is to secure a safe zone. When working in a safe zone, the tow truck operator will be able to safely focus more on the task itself.
When Doing Roadside Assistance
Roadside assistance can actually be a very dangerous duty for tow truck operators. While performing duties such as tire change and jump starts, the attention of the operators are focused on the jobs. This is when the danger comes in; since they are diverted from the traffic conditions around them. Therefore, to be cautious while on duty, the trucks should be parked at an appropriate distance behind the broken-down vehicle. Towing operators should be close enough from their trucks to gather equipment, but far enough from the truck so that when a vehicle hits the truck, the operator will have enough space to escape for safety. The wheels of the truck should turn towards the ditch line, so that should a collision happen, the impact will not make the truck roll from the lanes of traffic
Towing operators, when working at a highway, should wear a fluorescent orange, yellow, or green safety vest. Tow truck drivers should wear reflective helmets to increase their visibility to other motorists driving by. By doing so, it can also protect their heads. Protective gloves should be worn, as well as steel-toed boots with slip-resistant soles to lower the odds of falling and foot injury.