Not many people are aware but tow truck drivers have a mentally and physically challenging job. There are new circumstances every job you arrive at, new people to deal with at every scene. There are hazards to constantly be aware of, a tow truck driver is always thinking about safety. Safety of themselves, safety of others and all of the noise and traffic always around.
And this is all without even mentioning the fact they have to drive a tow truck all day.
A tow truck driver must always be alert, it’s definitely not a job that anyone can do.
It takes a special talent, the driver needs to be fit of body and mind to consistently perform.
Imagine every job you turn up to you are driving a tow truck and searching for your target vehicle. Then when you find it it is never an easy situation, you need to find an ideal position to park the truck. It is never usually at a convenient time either, most jobs are when there is heavy traffic.
So the driver has to not even worry about controlling a tow truck in heavy traffic, you must always be problem solving on the go. So this goes without saying there are a lot of dangers and hazards that tow truck drivers come across all day.
Here I will discuss some tips and tricks for both new and old tow truck drivers.
This is advice that I wish I had come across when I first started out driving tow trucks.
Speak Your Mind & Communicate
This is easily the leading cause for complications, lack of effective communication. A tow truck driver is always thinking ahead, trying to plan out a scenario before it even happens. So it is not often that a tow truck driver will speak up. Something that even experienced tow truck drivers do not do enough of is talk loud and clear to everyone at a scene.
Most people do not experience dangerous roadside incidents everyday. A tow truck driver does, all day every day. A tow truck driver knows every step and every precaution that needs to be taken. So they should take charge of the situation and let everyone around the scene know what’s going to happen. It’s not just about the tow truck driver and the customer.
Tow truck drivers are always in contact with the ‘base’. The base is always in touch with the driver, they are always aware of each other. Every move, target and the purpose of each job is known by both the base and the driver.
There are times when a tow truck driver must pick up an illegally parked car. This means that confrontations and unwanted encounters may occur. There are protocols and rules to follow so every scenario is different.
It is crucial to know that if at any time as a tow truck driver you feel unsafe, it is advised to stay in the truck. Contact the appropriate authorities and keep the base notified of the situation.
Most potential problems can be completely avoided if the tow truck driver speaks their mind. The tow truck driver can almost see the future, they are always thinking of potential hazards.
It took me time, experience and confidence but a new driver can avoid a lot of issues if they simply speak up.
Maintain The Rig
Something that is extremely underrated in the towing industry is how important it is to keep the tow truck in premium condition. After all, the tow truck is the sole machine that makes the job possible. Any slight fault that builds gradually over time will initially impact performance very little. The driver may even adapt, but every single thing adds up.
It only takes a few loose bolts, a worn out cable and a lack of lubricant and it doesn’t matter how good the driver is. Ignoring basic tow truck maintenance routinely costs businesses more in the long run.
As an experienced driver, I could explain clearly to the boss how any slight fault would cost me 5 minutes each job. This can add up to doing 1 less job every day and that is costing the business money. My advice for drivers is whenever there is anything that is not performing optimally, report it immediately. This way, you are putting responsibility onto the boss to sort it out and they are made aware of the fault.
Not to mention the safety aspects of keeping the rig in top condition. Maintaining all parts of a tow truck will help do the job efficiently and keep everyone involved safer.
Slow & Steady Wins The Race
There is always pressure on a tow truck driver, pressure to get to the scene fast and pressure to get the job done fast. My advice to all drivers, not just tow truck drivers, ignore the pressure. I know it sounds crazy, the boss puts heat on tow truck drivers to get jobs done in a certain amount of time. But the drivers that let the pressure get to them and rush jobs are the ones that always make mistakes. And a mistake as a tow truck driver is always extremely costly.
There is never a need to speed, not only are you risking a fine but a tow truck is a variable weighted vehicle. This means one hour the tow truck is over 1000 kilos or 2200 pounds heavier than the next. This is never easy to get used to so driving with pressure and a rush is crazy, so ignore the pressure.
Getting the job done safely, smoothly and effectively is always, always better than doing it 1 minute faster. This is something that new tow truck drivers need to understand from the start. In a year of tow truck driving you might do a few jobs less than another driver who is rushing around. But in my experience, I have seen it happen so many times. That same rushed driver only needs to make 1 mistake and they are no longer the king of the shop.
So enjoy the job, it’s challenging and there are new twists and sights everyday.
But take these few tips and tricks on board and you will be far better for it.