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Safety tips for wrecker drivers

Sept. 19, 2022
Performing roadside maintenance is inherently dangerous, so precautions should be taken to work safely. Here are some tips to make the job easier and minimize the chances of being injured.

Wrecker drivers are a mobile service technician who tows, remove, and secure wrecked vehicles and perform other duties. This includes driving to an accident scene on a flatbed truck to pick up a vehicle. The job may require picking up and moving the vehicle quickly or performing repairs on the spot. These maintenance technicians are responsible for making sure any debris, such as glass, reflective tape, and flashing lights at the site of the accident, is also cleared away before work begins. Then once they have picked up the vehicle, these workers need to move it to a safe and secure location. This could mean driving on the highway or getting permission to park the vehicle on someone’s property. Wrecker drivers may then be responsible for safely repairing or towing the vehicle to your shop or storage facility.

Even though the job may be exciting and pays well (the national average for heavy-duty tow truck drivers is just shy of $60,000, according to ZipRecruiter), many stressors exist, including driving in inclement weather and working long hours. Many people who work in this field suffer injuries that result from toiling for long hours in confined spaces. And working on the side of the highway, with other cars and truck zipping by at 70 mph, makes the job inherently dangerous. Brian Riker, president and chief compliance specialist for Fleet Compliance Solutions, a transportation compliance consulting company for the commercial vehicle market, previously told Fleet Maintenance in 2020 that "on average, a tower or mobile mechanic is struck by a passing vehicle once every six days in the U.S."

With all this in mind, roadside service managers and supervisors should ensure their workers always perform the job in a safe and efficient manner.

Here are some tips for wrecker drivers and managers to make the job easier and minimize your chances of being injured.

1. Invest in a great truck seat

These drivers spend an average of 10 hours each day sitting down. Make sure your truck seat offers the correct support and allows you to maintain a healthy posture. Many drivers invest in high-back seats to have more back support to sit up straight. This helps eliminate lower back pain, one of the most common injuries in this field. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), many drivers have difficulty maintaining an appropriate sitting posture. Research shows that this can lead to several medical conditions, including chronic lower back problems.

2. Make use of mobile maintenance

Mobile maintenance services are becoming more common than ever. If you are performing a repair or towing job, make sure to work with a reputable team of mechanics. This service can keep your truck in good operating condition and safe on the road. Some mobile maintenance companies can perform routine maintenance and repairs if your truck fails while you are on the job.

Regular inspection of your truck is important because it can lead to significant savings in the long run. It is also better to know that the condition of your vehicle is up to par and any potential issues will be caught and repaired in time. Mobile maintenance companies can also help you handle a breakdown or accident. Any problems with maintenance may cause a driver to lose control of the truck and lead to an accident on the road.

3. Wear safety apparel

A lot of the time, people focus on driving safely but overlook practical protective workwear. This can be especially dangerous working in a hot environment or performing heavy lifting or moving equipment. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) provides safety regulations for the challenges that you face as a trucker. Hats, gloves, and safety glasses protect your skin as you work and offer additional safety while working in challenging conditions.

When towing a vehicle, you must have a bright and reflective vest to show other drivers behind you where you are on the road. Make sure you have a tow truck light to alert other drivers on the road. Do not forget to wear your safety shoes and boots on the job. You must be sure you have the right shoes to walk around and easily move around your truck and the road. Wearing safety apparel for truck drivers can keep you comfortable on the road.

4. Be aware of safety laws

You must abide by all the safety laws, so it is wise to know them before starting your job in this industry. You can take some precautions to keep yourself safe while working on the road. For instance, you must follow all traffic laws. For example, you must always obey speed limits and keep your vehicle in a safe position at all times on the road. The law requires that you slow down and move out of the way if you see something on the road that may cause an accident. You need to be mindful of all traffic lights. You must carefully observe accompanying vehicles when traveling through intersections. These precautions can help reduce the risk of injuries or accidents while you work. Read up on other safety tips to help stay safe while working on the road.

5. Get help from other professionals

Just as unexpected maintenance issues strike the tractor-trailers you repair and remove from the road, your own wrecker may go down while on the job. When this happens, you need to be prepared. It is a good idea to work with another reputable tow truck service provider to help you manage these situations. FleetNet America, for instance, uses an internal rating system to assign a roadside service provider based on location, skill set, and more.

Final thoughts

Driving a tow truck is a huge responsibility. In the event of an accident or breakdown, unexpected situations can turn into life-threatening ones in seconds. These safety tips can help you stay safe in this industry. Safety apparel, mobile maintenance services, and knowing the laws are just a few of the ways you can protect yourself and the people around you on the road.

Nick Warrick is the sales manager at All Seasons Uniforms, a professional workwear company based outside of Chicago that has been in business since 1991.

About the Author

Nick Warrick | Sales Manager | All Seasons Uniforms

Nick Warrick is the sales manager at All Seasons Uniforms, a professional workwear company based outside of Chicago that has been in business since 1991.

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