Road Service News

Years ago it was not unusual to see a private citizen throw a chain around a bumper of a stalled vehicle and tow it home or to the gas station. Obviously that is no longer an option and it never was a safe one. Towing today’s various classes of vehicles requires a good deal more towing sophistication.

Today the road service industry must provide more than a simple chain. They are subject to regulations just like any industry and increasingly subject to conflicting ordinances and regulations, depending on what state they’re in.

In Albany New York they are passing a law against what they are calling “predatory towing”.

“People have complained about towing for years, and Jennings called for a review of the local law last fall. The Common Council approved the new ordinance in November and it took effect Wednesday. Tow companies are now required to release a vehicle for no fee if the owner shows up before the truck is moving.
City Police Chief James Tuffey said most complaints come from people who parked in lots they thought were public. Often, the drivers were attending special events such as Alive at Five when parking is hard to find.

The city now requires lot owners to clearly mark their lots and tow companies to call the police before they tow there. Also, tow companies must obtain prior approval from the police department to remove vehicles from private lots near major city events. That way the lots can be inspected for proper signage first.”

In Arkansas, they are trying to even the playing field when tow companies cross state lines

“A Senate committee Wednesday endorsed legislation that would authorize the state to fine out-of-state tow truck operators for pickups in Arkansas if their home state bans Arkansas towers from operating there.
For instance, Oklahoma law requires that towing in that state be done by an Oklahoma towing operation owned by an Oklahoma resident, the committee was told.

The law prohibits a Fort Smith resident whose vehicle breaks down near his home, but on the Oklahoma side of the border, to call an Arkansas towing company to deliver the vehicle to a garage in Arkansas…”

In Michigan, tow truck driver’s are revving up for a civil suit.

“..many companies are upset with the $300 per vehicle fee for city inspections of vehicles. According to the ordinance, vehicles must be inspected when the license is renewed every two years.

“Why am I paying for my (state) inspection?” asked American Towing owner Daryl England. “(The state) is above the city on this.”

Because MDOT already inspects vehicles for safety, towing owners are upset that the city is imposing another inspection on top of what is already required by the state.

At a council meeting last month, when several towing companies voiced their concern about the fee, a representative from Stadium Towing said the new inspection would be to make a truck is equipped with the proper tools. He said the MDOT inspection only covers the safety of a truck or wrecker.

“If I call a tow truck, I expect it to have the right tools,” King said. “It’s standard equipment.”

England said the fee would have to be passed onto the consumer. He said it would make the cost for a tow and impound even more expensive than it is now.

“The actual tow bill is $140, then you’ve got to tack on everything else,” he said.

David McCoy, a driver for Discount Towing, said the city of Toledo tried passing a similar ordinance, which was defeated in court.

“We’re all going to get an attorney,” England said. “We’re going to file a class-action law suite.”

The picture up top is from a tow service forum where members can send in shots of memorable tows. Definitely proof that good road service requires some skills a bit more complicated than throwing on a chain.
(Click image to enlarge)

Posted on Thursday, March 22nd, 2007 at 9:20 am In Road Service  

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