How Potatoes Caused Safety Issues for Local Towing Company
Tim’s Towing & Recovery 912-225-6229
A truck stranded by a highway is always a nuisance to motorists and is a challenge for any towing company. Add 22 tons of potatoes to a disabled truck and the nuisance becomes unsafe and downright dangerous for motorists as well as the towing company trying to remedy the situation. This scenario played out in South Carolina last week along Interstate 95 with an overloaded 53’ box van full of potatoes.
The tow company was called when the box van buckled under the load along a section of Interstate 95. The truck and the potatoes would need strategic removal by the towing company. Unfortunately, the affected section of Interstate 95 has no shoulder. Further complicating matters, South Carolina Highway Patrol prevented the tow company from closing that section of road so traffic continued to zoom past at high speeds.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol claimed that MUTCD guidelines prevented them from shutting the highway down. They stated that permits must be obtained by any towing companies and a lane closure company used. This decision by the South Carolina Highway Patrol, however, runs contrary to SC DOT documentation which specifies that lanes can be closed as long as MUTCD guidelines are followed and it not occur during peak traffic times. The towing company had a challenge. Perhaps South Carolina should re-evaluate its emergency response to these situations and the imminent danger of roadside hazards to the motoring public!
Details of Towing Company Recovery
Interstate 95 in South Carolina had a 53’ box van loaded with 22 tons of potatoes buckle. Tim’s Towing and Recovery was called in to rectify the situation. The trailer buckled from being overloaded combined with incorrect positioning of the trailer tandems which were placed in the far rear position instead of being slid toward the middle of the trailer to provide necessary load support .
There was no room on the shoulder of the interstate and law enforcement would not allow a lane to be closed. MUTCD guidelines specified otherwise, but the towing company was forced to comply with officers on sight. Traffic continued around the truck at highway speeds which made the recovery effort much more dangerous for the towing company and took far longer than originally anticipated.
The 22 tons of potatoes were unloaded by hand, placed into industrial bags, then stacked onto a rollback open-top container. It was not clear if the potatoes were food grade or used for animal feed. If they were for human consumption, it makes you think twice about eating potatoes!!! The large industrial bags were loaded onto rollbacks and landoll trailers with a forklift.
The box truck was then chained on the underside for support to hold it together for transport behind a 35-ton heavy-duty tow truck . The potatoes were taken to Tim’s Towing and Recovery where they remain awaiting their fate while the broker determines their next destination. The total job took 12 hours for the towing company to complete due to the very limited work space and uncooperative officials to create a safe emergency work zone. According to SC DOT documentation, the lanes could be closed as long as MUTCD guidelines are followed and the recovery not occur during peak traffic times. They said all towing companies must adhere to this rule. South Carolina Highway Patrol said permits must be obtained and a lane closure company utilized. Meanwhile, the damaged, overloaded trailer in a very narrow location on the interstate, posed a high risk of rupturing or overturning if not removed promptly and properly from the interstate. Tim’s Towing and Recovery completed a dangerous and challenging job professionally and without injury.