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Towing companies must clear crash debris in Pasco (FL)


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Companies that remove vehicles from the scene of an accident in Pasco County must be sure to clear away the crash debris, too.

 

That’s the word from the Pasco County Commission, which adopted an ordinance to that effect during the board’s Oct. 20 meeting.

 

Commissioner Mike Wells had called for the local ordinance in the spring, to ensure that towing companies do a thorough job when clearing accident scenes.

 

County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder said the ordinance came to commissioners several months ago, but was delayed because of the pandemic.

 

“It basically mirrors state law, but gives us some teeth with towing companies that fail to clean up the scene of an accident,” Steinsnyder said.

 

Wells told the county attorney: “I’m glad it has finally made it back to us.”

 

The ordinance says that the board “recognizes that its streets and intersections are littered with debris from accidents and that this debris creates dangerous conditions for other persons using the roads.”

 

It also requires that: “Any person removing a wrecked or damaged vehicle from a street, road, or highway shall remove and lawfully dispose of any glass, debris, or other injurious substance dropped upon the highway from such vehicle.”

 

The ordinance aims to hold tow-truck drivers to the standards that state law requires.

 

In calling for the ordinance earlier this year, Wells said he didn’t think every hauler is guilty of leaving debris in the road, but he wanted to increase the level of accountability.

 

The ordinance was adopted without public comment, on a 4-0 vote, with Commissioner Kathryn Starkey absent.

 

RESOURCE LINK

Published November 04, 2020

 

Note: Towing Rates are Regulated in Pasco County, FL.

Pasco County regulates private towing when a tow is performed without the vehicle-owner’s consent or when the towing is performed at the request of law enforcement (such as at an accident scene). The county has set a limitation on the types and amount of fees that may be charged. The original fees may be found in Resolution 07-169. As of 2020, the maximum base rate has increased $20.00 because of an increase in the CPI. For example, if a car is abandoned in a strip mall and the owner of the strip mall calls for a Class A wrecker to remove it without the permission of the owner of the car, the tow company can charge a maximum base rate of $120.00 ($100.00 + $20.00 CPI increase). The wrecker company may also charge for storage and other services outlined in Resolution 07-169, but only at the rates set out in the document.

 

Pasco County - County resolution 07-169 limits wreckers to charge $105 for a tow, plus $3 for every mile transported. The state prohibits wreckers from towing vehicles more than 15 miles in a county the size of Pasco, unless there is no towing facility within 15 miles. Dec 9, 2016
 
Note: the resolution says nothing about additional equipment or services provided.
 
 

If your vehicle has been impounded, you are required to pay the tow company bill and the fees to the City of New Port Richey. The city charges include a $200.00 administration fee and $20.00 per day storage fee. Storage fees accrue from the day of impound and every day thereafter, including weekends.

 

Payments for release of the vehicle can be made by either a money order or certified bank check. Cash, personal or business checks, debit and credit cards are NOT accepted. Payments must be made out to the "City of New Port Richey".

 

Vehicles may be picked up Monday -- Friday between the hours of 8:00 A.M. -- 4:45 P.M. Besure to have proper documentation and identification with you. Vehicles can only be released to the registered owner. If the registered owner is not picking up the vehicle a notarized letter signed by the owner must be presented.

 

Should you have questions you may call (727) 841-4550. If you need to pick up personal property from your vehicle, please call in advance.

 

RESOURCE LINK

 

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I'm protective of tow operators, but debris removal has been a law in most (if not all states) for years and years. If this is "new news" and "a new  requirement", perhaps Pasco County is to blame for letting a simple problem get out of hand. I imagine that if the agency has made such a big deal out of it, they must have experienced towers who don't do clean-up? Is this requirement a knee-jerk reaction from citizens? Is there documentation of accidents caused by remaining debris, or simply a slow news day? 

 

It's always been my understanding that operators have the lawful responsibility to remove and clean debris and fluids (to some extent), however, there have been times, for dangerous scenarios and public safety concerns, where the on-scene officer will instruct towers to load the car quickly and leave. This has been an on-going problem in California (and other states), however, it makes sense that towers are the most likely "hands on" workers to remove debris.  This is usually an inner-city problem where some towers simply grab and go.

 

Especially true to highway crashes, debris in the roadway can create secondary crashes, but at what cost of losing and operator's life when mandated by law, works in highway lanes and shoulders to sweep and collect debris, especially when traffic still flows? It's the same backwards mentality that requires tow operators to provide a four-point tie-down which mandates the operator to stand on the white line.   

If you read each law regarding clean-up or four-point secrement, nothing in their narrative mentions operator safety.

 

Accordingly, I believe there are laws that put tow operators directly in harm's way and offer no protection to the operator. I say this in memory of tow operators, Martin Braden (CO), Paul Macejko (OH), Ronald Covington Jr, (TN), Larry Clamp (TX),  Stanley Schultz (TX), Daniel Steinberg (RI), Wayne Kernachan (CAN), and this year, Ramon Loza (WI), all reportedly killed attempting to sweep, clean-up or remove debris from a in-traffic lanes or highway shoulders. Sadly ... their lives were cut-short because of debris.        R. 

 

I believe it's reasonable to say, a tower's individual safety should be focused on day-to-day survival ... while remembering the responsibilities of clean-up when safe to do so.                   R. 

 

 

Randall C. Resch

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