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Efficient Fleets Start With Quality Software

Get Rid of the Grease Board and Scratch Pads
By: Jeffrey Godwin

In the towing industry we often overlook the fundamentals of operating a solid fleet. Though it is true we are typically more mechanically skilled and rarely cannot haul our own equipment when it is down, there is no reason to settle for reactive maintenance where we just fix what breaks. With simple fleet maintenance solutions, we can gather information in realtime from the drivers in our vehicles and then make decisions that can reduce downtime and repair costs. This is not a hypothetical case; fleet maintenance software saves companies money by reducing downtime, providing insight into expenses and through interactive preventative maintenance and vehicle inspection.

It seems many companies with small fleets often ignore tracking of fleet maintenance. This may be common practice and may even be acceptable in industries where the vehicle is not actually performing the work but in towing, we have too much at stake to not know what is happening in our fleets. Simple fleet maintenance software packages are available that can track all of your fleet costs and report back to you with real information to validate your gut feelings. Most packages are capable of managing and monitoring everything in your fleet from the heaviest rotator down to your personal truck, skid steers, trailers, or even generators and compressors. If it needs maintenance, many packages can track it. If it has wheels, fleet maintenance software is a must.

The benefits of quality software in this area of your business are significant. Using these tools a company can expect to track its vehicles, manage parts inventory, identify over or underutilized fleet components, schedule maintenance, track costs, monitor warranties, receive alerts such as upcoming needs forecasting, and capture data from the field including fuel, inspections, accidents and more. There are dozens of high quality, meaningful reports available from most systems and these will help in your continuing efforts to understand your fleet costs, predict your needs, and reduce labor costs and downtime. There is no worse event in a fleet based operation than to have a vehicle down for an extended period of time due to unplanned maintenance. The vehicle is not earning for the company and its driver is not earning either. Fleet maintenance software can help.

Read more: Efficient Fleets Start With Quality Software

Happy New Year – To All Our AADT Clients

We hope that 2014 will be prosperous for all. Fortunately, our unwavering commitment to customer service and value pricing has led to surprising growth in 2013 and we expect this trend to continue.

With the New Year ahead of us, many of you will need to have a copy of your MIS (management information system) semi-annual summary testing statistics report for 2013 on file, where you can access it.

Our laboratory, Medtox, has informed us that the semi-annual reports for 2013 (July - December) will be mailed out to all our clients by the 3rd week of January.So keep your eyes open for those reports and once they are received please make sure to file them away.

Just recently we had two clients who have had unannounced inspections by their CHP inspectors and were cited for not having a copy of their MIS reports.AADT provides as a “Free Courtesy Service” the processing of your MIS reports, but we do require at least 2 business days prior to your scheduled DOT/CHP BIT/CSAT/TDLR inspection date so we may furnish your reports and review it with you and make sure you have all the documents you needed to insure compliance.We have provided in section 3 of the AADT binder a section to help you understand “What to do when.”On form G there is guidance on “Preparing for a Drug/Alcohol Compliance Review” or you can find it online at in downloadable forms.

Q. So what are the exact rules about documents you need to maintain for your drug program?

A. Within the regulations CFR 49 Part 382, it clarifies that: MIS REPORTS: Subpart D - Handling of test results, records retention, and confidentiality, §382.403Reporting of results in a management information system.

(a) An employer shall prepare and maintain a summary of the results of its alcohol and controlled substances testing programs performed under this part during the previous calendar year, when requested by the Secretary of Transportation, any DOT agency, or any state or local officials with regulatory authority over the employer or any of its drivers.

(b) If an employer is notified, during the month of January, of a request by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to report the employer's annual calendar year summary information, the employer shall prepare and submit the report to the FMCSA by March 15 of that year. The employer shall ensure that the annual summary report is accurate and received by March 15 at the location that the FMCSA specifies in its request. The employer must use the Management Information System (MIS) form and instructions as required by 49 CFR part 40 (at § 40.26 and appendix H to part 40). The employer may also use the electronic version of the MIS form provided by the DOT. The Administrator may designate means (e.g., electronic program transmitted via the Internet), other than hard-copy, for MIS form submission.

For information on the electronic version of the form, see:

(c) When the report is submitted to the FMCSA by mail or electronic transmission, the information requested shall be typed, except for the signature of the certifying official. Each employer shall ensure the accuracy and timeliness of each report submitted by the employer or a consortium.

(d) If you have a covered employee who performs multi-DOT agency functions (e.g., an employee drives a commercial motor vehicle and performs pipeline maintenance duties for the same employer), count the employee only on the MIS report for the DOT agency under which he or she is randomly tested. Normally, this will be the DOT agency under which the employee performs more than 50%of his or her duties. Employers may have to explain the testing data for these employees in the event of a DOT agency inspection or audit.

e) A service agent (e.g., Consortium/Third party administrator as defined in 49 CFR 382.107) may prepare the MIS report on behalf of an employer. However, a company official (e.g., designated employer representative) must certify the accuracy and completeness of the MIS report, no matter who prepares it.

We provide our clients with all that they need to be compliant when it comes to your drug and alcohol testing program requirements. Virtually all the information you need is available in your AADT binder or on our website.

We would also like to point-out that our AADT online access and services portholeallows you to manage your account, pay invoices, view random selection and testing history and much more all on-line, just take a moment to set up your online access. Go to: If you need help, please call us.

Motor Carrier Alliance Wants Hair Testing OK’d for DOT Driver Drug Screening

Prompted by a few large trucking interests, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., have introduced federal legislation designed to enable trucking companies to more effectively prevent lifestyle drug users from gaining employment as commercial truck drivers.

Companion bills in the Senate and House direct the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to recognize hair testing as an optional method to comply with the Department of Transportation drug testing requirements for truck drivers.

Under current federal regulations, only urinalysis is recognized by DHHS for mandatory pre-employment drug and alcohol exams of truck driver applicants. However, the number of truck driver applicants who pass a pre-employment urine test but fail a subsequent hair test is “alarmingly high,” according to the Washington, D.C. based Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, also known as The Trucking Alliance.

Sponsor Rep. Rick Crawford and co-sponsors Rep. Tom Cotton, Rep. Tim Griffin and Rep. Steve Womack are all Republicans who represent Arkansas. Three members of The Trucking Alliance are based in Arkansas – J.B. Hunt, Fikes Truck Line and Maverick Transportation. The fourth co-sponsor, Rep. Reid Ribble, is a Republican from Wisconsin, home state to The Trucking Alliance member Schneider National. Other member companies of The Trucking Alliance are Knight Transportation, Dupre Logistics and Boyle Transportation.

Due to urine testing inconsistencies, many trucking companies have turned to hair testing, which is more expensive, but is more effective in identifying drug users who apply for jobs as truck drivers. Hair follicle drug testing at a lab now runs about $60, while urine drug tests are as low as $12.

“Passing this much needed legislation will give trucking companies the option of conducting either a urinalysis or a hair test or both methods and will also allow positive hair tests to be reported to the soon to be created national drug and alcohol clearinghouse that Congress adopted last year,” says Gary Salisbury, a member of the Trucking Alliance board of directors and the current chairman of the Arkansas Trucking Association.

Congress mandated the creation of a drug and alcohol clearinghouse last year and the Department of Transportation is expected to have the clearinghouse operational by next year. FMCSA sent the rule to the OMB on March 26 and is still awaiting an opinion. This database will identify any person who has previously tested positive on a pre-employment drug exam required by the federal government before being employed as a truck driver.

However, unless DHHS recognizes hair testing as an approved methodology, no positive hair test results can be submitted to the national clearinghouse database. The new legislation introduced today will enable those drug test results to be reported to the clearinghouse.

“With millions of private-sector jobs and businesses relying on the trucking industry, I’m working every day to find new ideas to strengthen this economic powerhouse,” says Pryor, who also sponsored the clearinghouse legislation that became part of the current highway bill, MAP-21. “By allowing companies to eliminate duplicative processes, this bill will ensure our businesses have the certainty they need to invest, expand, and create jobs while securing the safety of our highways for all motorists.”

Pryor and Crawford were joined by were joined by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark, and representatives Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Steve Womack, R-Ark., Tim Griffin, R-Ark. and Reid Ribble, R- Wis.

Nothing is Foolproof

Industry critics of hair testing have numerous concerns with it in addition to its lack of any sort of validation by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), who incidentally has not given approval of its use. The DHHS Drug Testing Advisory Board is in the process of evaluating hair-based testing methods.

The Trucking Alliance contends that the DHHS should be allowed to complete the review of the testing method and, if it is determined to be a viable testing mechanism, to establish protocols and standards.

Many of the issues that the DHHS will likely grapple with are the limitations of the testing pointed out by many within the industry.

Normal human head hair grows at an average rate of one-half inch per month. The industry “standard” tests approximately one and one-half inches of hair, or three months of growth. A positive test result will occur only if there has been drug use at least three times during the period of time – generally three months – being tested based on hair growth.

Estimates vary, but after a drug is used, it takes approximately four to 10 days for the hair containing the drug to grow out of the scalp enough to be cut, eliminating any recent drug use from detection.
The variances in hair types have also posed problems in standardizing drug testing. Hair shape, size, formation, etc., varies by race, sex, age, position on the scalp, hair color and texture. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, dark hair is more likely to test positive for a drug and additionally African-Americans are more likely to test positive than Caucasians. Differing portions of the scalp hair can even be dormant at any given time and would not reflect drug use.

Hair testing can produce false positives, just like urine testing, for a number of reasons. The tests themselves alert to very low concentrations. That leads to slew of potential false positives. These can include over-the-counter medicines mimicking illegal drugs, passive exposure and contaminated samples.

Currently, hair samples are washed by test labs before being subjected to the tests. In the absence of any standards, different labs employ different washing procedures designed to remove trace elements from the exterior of the hair. The duration of wash and cleansers used can also affect the test results. Too little cleanser for a short period of time could result in an uptick in false positives while too much cleanser for too long could increase the number of false negatives.

STO December Meeting a hit!

I would Like to thank everyone that attended the Southwest Tow Operator’s December Board/General Meeting.  The STO Board did a marvelous job by taking care of the STO business in a fast pace, allowing time for our affiliate members and speakers to inform us about the opportunities they can bring to our members.  If you missed this meeting, you really missed a great opportunity to better yourself, your employees, and your business. The information that was shared with those that attended can SAVE our members THOUSANDS of DOLLARS and MAKE YOU THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, provided that they make use of the information.


For those that were not able to attend the meeting, you can still take advantage of these opportunities if you are a member of Southwest Tow Operators.  You can still find out about the meeting by calling our office. If you’re not a member, Join NOW and find out how we can help you. Don’t miss the chance to have your voice heard and to learn more about what Southwest Tow Operators can do for you. I hope to see you all at our next meeting.

We want to give a very special thanks to all of our Associate Members to help make this all possible, and wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!


Tommy Anderson
Southwest Tow Operators
Executive Director


In The News

2014 Chevrolet Malibu adds Stop/Start Technology to Enhance Efficiency
The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu receives a new, standard 2.5L engine with stop/start technology, which shuts down the engine in certain driving conditions to reduce fuel consumption. Stop/start and other technologies, including direct injection and variable valve lift control contribute to EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 25 mpg in city driving and 36 mpg on the highway – 14-percent and six-percent improvements, respectively. 

The system automatically shuts down the engine when the car comes to a stop, such as a stoplight, and the engine automatically restarts when the driver takes his or her foot off the brake. It monitors vehicle speed, the climate system and other factors to determine whether it is efficient to shut off the engine. In some cases, such as heavy stop-and-go traffic, the engine will not shut down.

Unique components used with stop/start include:

A tandem-solenoid starter that enables the engine to restart quicker and more smoothly

An electrically driven transmission auxiliary hydraulic pressure pump that keeps the fluid in the six-speed automatic circulating and primed for immediate take-off when the driver removes his or her foot from the brake pedal

•  Larger, ACDelco 12-volt absorbent glass mat (AGM) primary battery and a small, auxiliary 12-volt AGM battery. The smaller battery helps maintain power during re-starts, as the larger battery powers accessories such as the audio system and windows when the engine stops.


Rick's Automotive Inc.

Rick's Wrecker Service

Rick A. Ruback

1110 N. Main St.

Cleburne Texas 76033-3860

817-558-2523 ext. 104


Continental Logo Black sRGB

The Continental Tire Tow Truck Program is only offered to Southwest Tow Operator’s Members. Tires must be purchased from an Authorized Continental Dealer. Users of the program must identify themselves as Tow Operators to their local Continental Dealer and indicate they wish to purchase tires on the Continental Tow Truck Program. Dealers should know how to process these program sales. In the event that they do not, please have them contact the Government Sales Office in Fort Mill at 1-888-367-7912 and select option #4 for CVT for details.

Authorized Users:
All sales under the Program are solely for the replacement of tires on Tow Trucks. Any abuse of the Tow Truck program may result in action being taken by CTA. Please contact your local Continental Sales Representative to ensure your eligibility for the program.

Federal Excise Tax:
Tow Truck Program customers are subject to Federal Excise Tax.

Tires Not Listed:
All products are subjected to availability, and there are no substitutions.

Additional Notes:
This program will expire on December 31, 2013. (typically renewed in three month increments)

Note: If a tire is not listed on the program, please contact your respective Continental Tire the Americas Territory Sales Representative.

For all questions regarding Continental Tire the America's Government Sales please contact your Sales Representative or the Government Sales Office in Fort Mill at 1-888-367-7912 opt 3 for PLT, and opt 4 for CVT.

Contact Info

  • Southwest Tow Operators
  • 660 N Central Expressway, Suite 230
  • Plano, Texas 75074
  • Toll Free: (866) 320-9300

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