What's in the Tow Truck Course?
Our Tow Truck training course is regulation compliant, and our online version fulfills classroom training requirements. Each class contains sections on anatomy and pre-shift inspections, safe operations, common hazards, and more.
During this training, we will be taking a look at the basic anatomy and components of tow trucks. Additionally, we will focus on components that must be examined during pre-shift inspections. Next, we will cover safe tow truck operating procedures. This will cover principles such as how to safely use your tow truck, as well as safeguards so you may remain safe within the worksite.
Lastly, we will talk about common hazards that lead to injuries or fatalities and how to prevent, avoid, or minimize them. To reinforce the importance of following safe operations and identifying these hazards beforehand, we will provide case studies based on true accident profiles.
This presentation includes intermittent practice quiz questions to prepare for the final written exam included with the course. In addition to the written exam, this course also includes a checklist for employers to use when administering a practical exam as required by OSHA.
Estimated Training Length: Because everyone learns and progresses at different speeds, the amount of time you spend taking this training will vary. However, the estimated time for this training is 90 - 120 min.
OSHA Standards: This course meets the following OSHA standards:
- CFR 1910.132 – PPE General Requirements
- CFR 1910.212 – General Requirements for All Machines
- CFR 1926.600 – Motor Vehicles, Mechanized Equipment, and Marine Operations
- CFR 383.91- Operators of vehicles over 26,000 LBS must possess a CDL.
- CFR 396.11- CDL operators must conduct a pre-shift inspection
- CFR 395.8 - CDL operators must keep a logbook
- CFR 390.21- CMVs must have an official DOT number
Why Take Our Online Tow Truck Training?
Our online training course provides a substantial, thorough, and effective way to learn how to work safely. We’ve been providing industry-specific safety training solutions for individuals, safety managers, and business owners for over 15 years.
The online course meets the classroom requirement for occupational safety training. It also includes a proficiency checklist that employers can use to perform a practical evaluation, in accordance with standards and regulations.
We have fine-tuned this training to provide you with the best experience possible. Our robust training approach gives an interactive experience that helps learners retain information and apply it on the job site, preventing costly accidents and fines. Safety training is an investment. That is why hundreds of companies and individuals all over the world trust the Hard Hat Training Series for their online training needs.
Why Buy Our Tow Truck Driver Training?
- Complete Training: Our goal is to keep you safe and save you money. Train using a program that helps you retain what is learned so that it is put into practice on job sites.
- Cost-Effective: Hiring a trainer to come on site can be expensive. That is why we developed our online curriculum to lower costs while still providing a professional training experience. (Check out our bulk pricing tiers below!)
- Records Tracking System: We offer an easy to use management system. If you have multiple students who are receiving the training you can have access to all records, certificates, observation guides and more! (Contact us if you would like us to quickly create a company account for you)
- Train Your Way: You can use this online training program for new hire training, refresher training or to train remotely. Access it from anywhere and work on your schedule.
- Interactive Learning: Special reminders and quiz questions throughout the course prep students for the final exam so that it is passed the first time.
- Corporate License: Do you want to host this course on your own server? Contact us about obtaining broadcasting rights for this and any of our other online courses.
Do I need a CDL to drive and operate a Tow Truck?
CDL stands for “Commercial Driver’s License,” and whether you need one or not varies depending on the state in which you are operating as well as the weight of the loads you are towing. However, many companies require a CDL even if the state doesn’t. Of course, no matter what, you must have a standard state-issued driver’s license.
A CDL is typically required whenever your GCWR, or Gross combined vehicle weight rating, exceeds 26,000 pounds. Tow trucks can vary greatly in size and weight, as well as the loads you will be towing. This is why it is wise to obtain a CDL regardless of local regulations and laws.
To obtain a CDL, you will need to pass a skills test. The skills test involves a vehicle inspection test, basic controls test, and a road test.
Tow Truck Training | Safety Certification
Towing can be a very hazardous profession. On a regular workday, tow truck drivers face a variety of dangers. The dangers include the risk of being struck while attempting to remove a vehicle, as well as the possibility of suffering injuries in crashes involving:
- Roadside obstructions
- Chemical spills
- Other equipment
Poor tow truck driver safety procedures can cause serious injuries or even death on the job or on the road. Fortunately, OSHA establishes safety standards that operators and employers must adhere to. These standards are put in place in order to help keep all drivers safe.
Government organizations and commercial companies must work together to keep roads safe. Accidents and system failures must be managed quickly and efficiently. Drivers of tow trucks respond to these occurrences and work as a team to load and move cars safely.
What is a Tow Truck Driver?
Tow truck operators are skillful drivers that are able to drive a variety of tow vehicles and operate related machinery. The majority of tow truck operators have a commercial driver's license (CDL), and some of them may also be OSHA certified to drive tow trucks.
What Do They Do?
Tow truck operators respond to requests for assistance from stranded or broken-down drivers. They load, move, and unload abandoned or illegally parked cars. Drivers of tow trucks evaluate the safety of a situation to decide when and how to remove a car safely from a road.
Different Types of Tow Trucks
Conventional Tow Truck
With conventional tow trucks, the axles and frame of the car being pulled must be encompassed by chains and large mechanical arms. The parts work together to raise two tires off the ground so that the car can be pulled while it is in neutral. Because of the potential damage they could cause while towing vehicles, tow truck drivers tend to use conventional tow trucks irregularly.
Wheel Lift Truck
Wheel lift trucks, sometimes known as "full float trucks," are used to raise one of the axles of a vehicle off the ground. Wheel lift trucks use hydraulics as opposed to hooks and chains to lessen the risk of vehicle damage. The tow truck uses the remaining tires to pull the vehicle after two tires are lifted off the ground.
Vehicles are loaded into flatbed trucks, sometimes known as "rollback trucks," using a flatbed elevated onto a ramp. These trucks are used for transporting expensive vehicles or vehicles that do not have rotating tires.
OSHA Requirements For a Tow Truck Operator
As a tow truck operator, you must abide by a set of regulations established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This also applies to you if you are the fleet manager or the employer of a towing business.
OSHA is the government agency in charge of safeguarding American workers. They do this by requiring employers to maintain "safe and healthful working conditions" for all employees. The term "working conditions" refers to hazards that a person might encounter while in the workplace.
Fewer incidents occur when workers are aware of how to handle hazards and unsafe working conditions. Employees must receive proper training in order to understand and grasp safety procedures. Never presume that a worker has received training because of their prior employment. Employers should impose a 30-day probationary term and a road test on new drivers. Additionally, use recognized programs to instruct onboarding and refresher tow truck safety training classes.
It goes without saying that preventative maintenance is critical. It can prevent fatal accidents and reduce maintenance costs. Regular maintenance and frequent inspections of your truck and towing equipment are recommended. Never try to pull a car that is heavier than what your towing equipment is capable of handling.
The rigging of equipment for handling towed vehicles is subject to a number of OSHA regulations for tow truck drivers. You must make certain that rigging equipment:
- Has permanently affixed markings that include the manufacturer’s recommended safe working load
- Is inspected before use during each shift and removed from service if found to be defective
- Is never used to lift more than its recommended safe working load
Tow truck drivers on the site are protected by high-visibility vests. Even at night, workers may be seen and avoided by incoming vehicles thanks to reflective clothing. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), tow truck operators must wear green, yellow, or orange fluorescent safety vests when working close to or on the side of a federal highway.
Gloves can also be essential protective equipment, particularly if an accident has left a disabled car on the road. Operators are shielded from shattered glass or metal near a crash site by thick gloves.
Driving defensively can keep operators safe as they travel to and from destinations. They must always follow safety measures when they arrive at the site of a disabled car. Use handrails and running boards, for instance, when getting into and out of the truck.
Whenever possible, tow truck operators should park where the truck will be able to block oncoming traffic. If they can rig the disabled car with remote controls, all the better. Injury risks are reduced if the tow truck driver does not have to get out in order to attach the disabled car.
Other Laws & Regulatory Bodies
Tow truck drivers are protected at work by OSHA regulations, which outline guidelines for companies to adhere to, such as maintaining safe working conditions and setting reasonable work hours for employees.
OSHA is not the only organization that controls tow truck driver safety, though. Federal laws that affect the health and safety of commercial vehicle operators at work are also enforced by the Department of Transportation (DOT). The OSHA statute permits other federal agencies' rules to take precedence over their own if they intervene to control safety and circumstances; as a result, there are no conflicting requirements.
Department of Transportation Jurisdiction
When commercial vehicles like tow trucks are operated, the DOT has jurisdiction. For example, the DOT is in charge of overseeing truck drivers' activities, especially while they are operating their vehicles on federal roadways. Some of these activities include:
- The licensing of vehicles
- The proper chocking and blocking of the wheels
- The proper application of the brakes
- The usage of seatbelts
- The roadworthiness of the vehicles
However, the loading and unloading that occurs off the highway falls under OSHA jurisdiction. The driver is also subject to OSHA regulations if they respond to a hazardous chemical or fuel spill. The safety of commercial vehicle maintenance and repair is also governed by OSHA.
Despite which governing body has jurisdiction, tow truck drivers must abide by all safety regulations. Complying with these standards and procedures will assist in keeping operators safe on the job.
Tow truck drivers can also be protected from hazards and employer liability by being well-versed in the safety standards. With the help of proper employee training, including road tests and tow truck safety programs.
Truck Driver Qualifications According To Employers
To operate a tow truck, you must be at least 18 years old. However, because it's frequently desired that operators have some experience, the average required age is usually between 21 and 25, meaning that most employers will require you to be at least 21 years old.
You are required to possess a certain amount of physical strength due to the harsh demands of this profession. In addition to using heavy machinery and moving large objects, you may need to dig a car out of the snow. As an operator, you will need to have great eyesight and hearing. These qualities will help you drive and operate machinery safely and stay alert no matter where you are working.
Being physically healthy, however, is not enough. Being a tow truck driver can be mentally taxing and demanding at times. You may spend the entire day negotiating traffic, battling the elements, and settling disputes with disgruntled vehicle owners. Therefore, you will need to maintain your professional composure even under pressure.
Valid Driver's License
Well, this one should go without saying. If you wish to drive a tow truck, you must have both a current, state-issued driver's license as well as a spotless driving record. Your ability to work as a tow truck operator may be impacted by points issued against you for offenses like speeding or traffic infractions. In addition to that, you must be a skilled and safe driver.
Clean Background Check
A criminal background check is often required for tow truck drivers because they handle and move valuable objects. You might also be asked to submit to a drug test given that you will be driving and operating heavy machinery.
Proper Education & Training
Although a specific degree is not required, having a diploma or GED provides you an advantage when applying to be a tow truck driver. Additionally, you can learn important skills by working as an apprentice or by shadowing experienced drivers. You'll be prepared to take on the last step—your certification—with these under your belt, along with some on-the-job training that enables you to master policies and safety procedures.
Tow Truck Driver Licensing & Certification
A commercial driver's license is required to operate a tow truck. Having one before applying for a job can offer you a significant advantage over other applicants and increase your chances of being hired.
You can then progress through the three certification levels. Completing all three will make you a versatile, well-rounded candidate capable of operating any kind of tow truck. It will also show that you will be able to take on any kind of towing job. These three levels of certification come after you have secured a job and have taken and completed an OSHA-compliant safety training course. The three levels of certification include:
Light-Duty – To qualify for this first tier, you must pass a final exam, complete all state driving criteria for light-duty training, and have driven a tow truck for 90 days within the previous five years.
Heavy Duty – To qualify for this mid-level certification, you must work as a recovery operator for one year. You must also have experience as a medium- to heavy-duty tow truck driver for one year. You should also already have beginner-level certification.
Heavy Recovery – Prerequisites for this level include your CDL, necessary endorsements, level two certification, and two years of prior professional experience.
Common Hazards That Tow Trucks Operators Face
Operating a tow truck is one of the riskiest occupations in the US. One of the main reasons behind this is that they must load and tow vehicles on the side of the road. According to the National Safety Council, tow truck drivers are 15 times more likely to die on the job than workers in other industries. Sixty-four percent of these fatalities are the result of collisions with other motor vehicles. The second leading cause of death in this industry is contact with objects and equipment.
For all drivers, distractions are a major contributing factor to accidents. A distracted driver is a driver who:
- Is not watching the road
- Doesn't have both hands on the wheel
- Has their mind on other things
Common causes of driving distractions include:
- Using a cell phone for texting or other purposes
- Conversing with other passengers
- Eating or drinking
- Environmental distractions (other cars, accidents, and billboards)
Tow truck workers risk getting struck while working on the side of the road if a driver is not paying attention, which is why distractions can be fatal.
The likelihood that a driver may cause an accident increases if they choose to drive too fast, pass other vehicles when it's not allowed, or tailgate. A tow truck operator who is already on the site of an accident will be put at risk if someone is driving too quickly or performing dangerous maneuvers nearby.
Dangerous Work Areas
Tow truck drivers make their living by helping out stranded motorists. These drivers are frequently stranded in hazardous locations that may put tow truck operators in the way of environmental hazards.
Maneuvering Through Heavy Traffic
There is a stark difference between driving a tow truck that is loaded and driving one that is not. Untrained drivers run the danger of making a mistake that could result in a fatality when trying to navigate a large truck through traffic.
Tow truck operators perform labor-intensive work and frequently put in a lot of overtime. When tow truck drivers operate while they are sleepy, they compromise the safety of themselves as well as other drivers. It is important that tow truck drivers know how to keep themselves alert when operating a truck.
Nearly all vehicles have blind spots, or areas along the sides, front, and back of the car that the driver cannot see in their rearview or side view mirrors. Large trucks can, therefore, have sizable blind zones that can endanger a smaller car passing close by. This is particularly true if the smaller car remains in the truck driver's blind spot and the operator fails to see it when trading lanes.
The greater the vehicle's weight, the greater the stopping distance needed for a safe stop. Tow trucks can weigh up to 10,000 pounds or more, requiring a greater stopping distance than the typical car or truck. On snowy or rainy roads, this distance only grows.
When making tight curves, like those on many city streets, larger trucks have a tendency to make wide turns, which causes them to swing out into adjacent traffic lanes. Unaware drivers risk having their car wedged between the tow truck and the curb or getting hit by or crushed under the tow truck as it turns.
A tow truck poses more risks due to its particular design and function, in addition to the risks that heavy trucks generally pose. Roll-away hazards exist that may result in serious injury or death to individuals standing or working in the roll-away zone.
The roll-away zone is directly behind the truck. Most tow trucks elevate the vehicle being towed onto the flatbed of the truck and also remove towed automobiles from the truck using an electric or hydraulic winch. A roll-away accident can occur due to mishaps such as:
- Failure of the tow truck driver to stop the vehicle from rolling by placing a block of wood or other object where they expect it to stop.
- Failure of a tow truck driver to verify that the winch is locked after removing extra cable to attach it to the towed car.
- Failure of the tow truck driver to secure the winch when the towed vehicle is on the slanted deck of the carrier.
- During winch recovery, the towed vehicle disengages from the free-spool, disconnect, or cable separation.
What Kind of Tow Truck Training Do I Need?
One of the most important things to watch for when looking for a tow truck course is whether or not the course is OSHA-compliant. Any safety training course you take should adhere to OSHA regulations.
The next most important feature of a safety course is that it covers the necessary topics. Fortunately for you, our Tow Truck Safety Training Course is OSHA-complaint and covers all the necessary safety topics. The following is an outline of our course and the information it contains.
Tow truck safety training courses should cover the interior and exterior anatomy of the truck. It should also cover how to perform proper inspections on all of the components. Some of the interior components are:
- Seats and seatbelts
- Fire extinguisher
- Interior controls
- Mobility check
- Back up alarms and lights
Some of the exterior components are:
- Truck body
- Tires and wheels
Some of the towing components are:
- Hydraulic system
- Cables and winches
- Snatch and block
- Towing devices
If you want to be considered a safe operator and follow the rules, you must meet specific qualifications before you can work with a tow truck. Read the operator's manual and get the necessary training and licensing, among other things.
Just as important as standard operating procedures are pre-operative procedures. During this time, you should choose and put on the appropriate PPE, do a pre-shift check, and keep an eye out for defects.
It is advised that you map out your route to and from the towing location before you even arrive at the job site. Avoid hazard-prone areas as much as you can, such as construction zones, highways with steep corners, and the like. If you must drive through these regions, exercise caution to prevent equipment damage and personal injury. Some other things that are important to operator travel safety are:
- Reporting your departure
- Proper mounting and dismounting
- Adhering to traffic laws
- Driving defensively
Towing a Vehicle
You must keep pedestrians away from the tow truck and the disabled car while the towing operation is in progress. Anyone too close to the truck or vehicle runs the risk of being critically hurt or killed by pinch points, moving hydraulics, and other dangers, even during routine operations. These risks are significantly more likely to occur if your tools break down or if you're lifting a car the wrong way. Some other important topics that this portion of the training covers are:
- Reporting your departure
- How to safely merge into traffic
- How to monitor the disabled vehicle