The TOW FIRST campaign is soliciting your "pledge" to tow light-duty vehicles to a safe location before changing a flat tire on the side of an interstate, turnpike, or other high-speed highways.

It is estimated there are between 40 and 60 tow truck operators killed each year while performing road services and most occur on the side of the highway. How many more towers are injured but go unreported is unknown. In nearly every case, high-speed traffic is the primary factor for a tower dying.

What do we want to accomplish with the TOW FIRST campaign?

1. Get towers to stop changing flat tires on the side of interstates and other high-speed highways.

2. Raise every tower's level of awareness of the dangers of working next to a high-speed highway.

3. Have all towing company owners adopt the policy of towing vehicles to a safe location before changing a flat tire.

4. Meet with motor clubs and third party dispatch groups to request they dispatch a flatbed for all flat tire service calls on interstates and turnpikes.

5. Seek approval from motor clubs and third party dispatch groups for payments for both the tow and the tire change, when both are performed.


Why should we pledge?

Even when the tower takes every step necessary to protect the breakdown location, they have no control of the approaching vehicles. The other drivers may be on their phone, texting, drunk, or doing anything other than paying attention to the road ahead.

We want your participation in the TOW FIRST campaign...and your families'. We need you to help spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and any other media available. We can save lives by stopping this single, most time consuming roadside service. Of the all services performed, other than recoveries, changing tires requires the greatest amount of exposure to traffic. Other services such as lockouts and jump-starts are reasonably rare on the side of the highway; and, hooking up or loading for a tow is generally much quicker than changing a tire.

Additionally, because of the posture and positioning of the tower while changing a tire, approaching traffic may not be visible and the tower may not have the ability to move quickly should the need arise. Eliminating tire changes on the side of a highway, interstate, or turnpike on light-duty vehicles can save lives.

There are towers who have not changed a tire next to a highway in many years. Customers generally understand the policy once they know the reason. A company may not get paid for the additional towing service but that is secondary when a life is at stake; however, there are a couple of motor clubs which do provide a 2nd service slip or allow their service provider to charge additional labor when the vehicle is towed first.

We understand towing a vehicle instead of changing a tire may not be possible for every tower. There are those of you who only have light-duty service vehicles without the capability of towing; the circumstances of a situation may require changing a tire; or your company's policy may be less flexible regarding the services you are required to perform. That doesn't matter! If you agree that your life is endangered by changing tires next to high speed traffic, we want and need your pledge.

The number of tire changes actually performed does not nearly equal the number of dispatches for the service. The lack of a spare tire or the spare is flat; no key for the locking lugnuts or the lugnuts are too tight; and, the vehicle manufacturer no longer includes a spare in their new car are a few reasons why we already tow many vehicles with flat tires.

Towers who take the pledge will not reduce the number of tire changes or add free towing in any significant numbers since many of these vehicles require towing anyway. Along the same line, motor clubs which agree to provide added payments when the tower performs both a tow and a tire change will not increase their financial obligation significantly when they support TOW FIRST.

Ultimately, the final choice to TOW FIRST is yours or your company's boss. We hope you will support this campaign and take the pledge, and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

The TOW FIRST campaign is sponsored by the North American Towing Academy (NATA).