Tow Truck Safety: How Cindy Iodice And Flagman Inc. Are Helping To Lead The Charge
May 31, 2023
There is nothing more important in the towing industry than the fight for scene safety and the prevention of fatal secondary accidents. For 365 days a year, towers across the U.S. risk their health and safety to help others. This is why tow truck safety with Flagman is an initiative everyone should know about.
Although there are versions of a move over law in all 50 states, the roadways are still an incredibly dangerous place for all responders. Far too many drivers are either unaware of or uninterested in the importance of slowing down and moving over.
Hence, educating the public on tow truck safety requires special people at the forefront. Cindy Iodice, the founder of Flagman Inc., is one of those people. She comes from generations of towers and grew up around the family business in Fairfield, Connecticut. In 1984, she purchased a one-way ticket to Hawaii to pursue her dream of studying and working in film and media. But she always had an eye on the towing industry. To this day, the selfless work of her family and tow truck operators around the world continue to inspire her.
Subsequently, the importance of tow truck safety sadly hits close to home for Cindy and her family. Cindy’s brother, Corey Iodice, was tragically struck and killed on the job in 2020. Through countless hours of advocacy, it became both her personal and professional mission to ensure no family needlessly suffers the same loss she and her family have endured.
“We have a major task ahead of us at Flagman. We are on a mission to bring driver safety awareness to every corner of the globe,” she said. “It’s now the holiday season and 47 first responders have lost their lives so far this year.”
In 2021 alone, 65 first responders lost their lives. On average, a first responder is struck and killed every 4.65 days while on the job, according to Flagman’s homepage. These stats reinforce the need for a better understanding of tow truck safety.
How Flagman Started
When her brother Corey lost his life on the job, Cindy realized that the towing and recovery industry’s voice needed to be amplified. Not only are the country’s move over laws rarely enforced, but they are also seldom talked about. The hard work to raise awareness of improving tow truck safety began right away.
“In our early creative meetings, we had to figure out what we could do for the slow down move over movement that was already underway,” Cindy said. “Did the industry need a new catchphrase? Did it need a new logo? Ultimately, we decided to take a universally-recognized safety icon and have Flagman represent all things slow down, move over.”
Thus, how could Flagman catch the attention of so many and start discussions about tow truck safety? In the animated prototype, Flagman jumped off of the sign and ran down the road before dancing in front of a flatbed carrier. Cindy made sure her family approved the eight-second clip.
“I sent it to my nieces at the time and they said they loved it,” she said. “I asked them what they specifically enjoyed about Flagman and they told me ‘we love how Flagman jumps off of the sign and that Flagman protects our dad out there.’ The very next day, the girls called me to say they saw Flagman on the side of the road. We are making progress with brand recognition. Regularly, we receive messages with photos from around the country. People pose with the Flagman sign with the added caption “I Stand With Flagman”, which is fun.”
Equally, she needed to decide how to spread the organization’s vision for tow truck safety. Because it was a driver who was under the influence that killed Corey, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD) provided an immediate inspiration to Cindy and her team.
“We idolize and seek to emulate what MADD created over 40 years ago and it has become our mission to do the same thing for slow down, move over,” Cindy said. “When MADD sent an email back in February asking to partner with Flagman, I burst out crying.”
Most secondary crashes involve drunk or drugged drivers, which was a factor in Corey’s death.
The Importance Of Safety
What shocked so many about Corey’s death was that he was one of the first to recognize towing dangers. He knew what it took to work on America’s roadways and the need to implement tow truck driver safety measures. In the old days, towers would put a few cones out on the road as a way to alert drivers. Corey began wearing a high visibility safety vest and created a manual about other scene safety measures he was implementing in his workflow. He shared his ideas freely with others in the towing industry.
“I was talking to my brother Chris recently about their phrase, ‘Hook it and book it.’ This always applies when they’re operating in very dangerous zones like the bend of a road and need to get in and out as quickly as possible,” Cindy said. “He told me the original tow operator uniform was literally black clothes. There was no reflective gear available before Corey started wearing his high visibility vests to keep himself safer.”
A recent study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that the towing industry has 15 times more deaths than all private U.S. industries combined. The dangers tow truck operators face begin the moment they enter their truck to head to a job site. From being aware of their surroundings to always wearing an ANSI class 3 vest, there are many things towers can do to stay safe.
The fight for better tow truck safety goes much further, though. For Cindy, the solution starts with our children.
Tow Truck Safety With Flagman
What’s the first thing you think of when you see Smokey the Bear? Wildfire prevention, right? Smokey defined a generation as the symbol for doing your part in keeping our forests clean and safe from fires. A big reason for this was that kids were introduced to the character while in school.
So, how can Flagman become a symbol for better tow truck safety? Cindy and her team are on a mission to bring awareness programs to K-12 schools across the country. They are using the image of our first responders as a starting point.
“We came up with a cool design for kids that includes animated pictures of Flagman, hazmat, fire, EMS, DOT, tow, utility, and police responders,” she said. “Flagman’s educational outreach team will work with all first responder and highway safety organizations. This will establish relationships with the kids in their communities so that they will understand who they might see working on the side of the road, what uniforms they wear, what they drive, and what jobs they perform. It’s our goal to teach them what they can do to help our responders get home safely.”
The pilot program is expected to launch in Connecticut in 2023 and reach upwards of 10,000 students. Tow truck safety with Flagman’s goal is to scale up quickly and enter more school districts around the country.
“The team at Flagman is even working with other countries that are focused on their own slow down, move over movement. The goal is to launch Flagman’s K-12 educational outreach program globally as well,” she said.
How You Can Stand With Flagman
As more and more Americans hit the road, it has never been more important to spread the message of slowing down and moving over for first responders and highway safety workers. Towers are often not thought of as first responders, and Flagman wants to change that.
“When my brother Corey died, he was the only responder on the scene that day. The state police did not have a car to send up and assist him,” Cindy said. “Tow truck operators are first responders and often the only responder.”
“Flagman safety is such an important mission. It’s going to take a village to help strengthen the relationships between first responders, highway safety workers, and the public,” Cindy said. “We’re working to raise awareness and spread safety practices wherever we can. On our website, you can sign up for our newsletter, partner with us, and become a true advocate to help our cause.”
Make sure you check out the Ways To Help section for more information.
Furthermore, always be sure to talk to your friends and families about tow truck safety with Flagman. Also, make sure you’re always trying to expand your knowledge of the industry through proper training. If you enjoyed this article, check out our blog to read more about the road ahead.