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City mulls predator tow truck bylaw, but operators push back


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A battle is brewing between city hall and tow truck drivers as politicians mull a proposed bylaw to clamp down on so-called “chaser” tows.

 

The goal is to protect people from predatory tow truck operators that race to the scene of car crashes and pressure customers to accept their company’s service, London’s bylaw boss says.

 

But not everyone is on board with the specific restrictions under consideration.

 

“That could kill small businesses. Shouldn’t city hall support small businesses?” said Fadi Ibrahim of Low Price Towing.

“The problem is there are some tow companies that are too aggressive. They stop at an accident and they . . . don’t listen to the customer. But we should not all be painted with the same brush.”

 

He worries new rules would increase the time it takes to tow vehicles off the road to a safe place after collisions and wipe out a huge source of business. Many operators approach scenes but offer their services respectfully, without taking advantage of customers, he added.

 

City staff recommend a new business licensing bylaw that would regulate tow truck drivers and implement an “anti-solicitation” policy, requiring all tow trucks to stay a certain distance from crash scenes unless specifically called by a customer.

 

The proposal to hold a public meeting to discuss those rules goes to politicians Tuesday.

 

“It’s not uncommon at accident scenes to have all first responders present, a tow truck present that has been officially called to the accident scenes, and others circling around,” said city bylaw boss Orest Katolyk.

 

“Accident scenes are stressful enough. There are persons that are possibly hurt. There are vehicles that are damaged, the road needs to be cleared. The first goal is to focus on the safety of everyone in the accident, and then you get the tow trucks arriving.”

 

The crux of the issue is tows that hitch vehicles without consulting police or the drivers.

 

Provincial legislation gives customers the right to receive an estimate and sign off on a towing service before their car is touched, among other protections.

 

Seventeen other cities have already implemented regulations for tow truck drivers or companies, according to the Canadian Automobile Association.

 

“It’s really to curb this chasing problem . . . it’s becoming a very competitive industry,” said Raymond Chan, CAA’s expert on municipal towing regulations in Ontario.

 

In communities where there are no rules, “it’s the wild west,” he added.

 

Adding to the tension in London is an exclusive contract that the police services board set up after a public request for proposals several years ago. Ross’ Towing won that contract and is called thousands of times a year by police at crash scenes. The contract ended a longtime rotation where various companies were used by police.

 

But drivers still have the ability to call any company they want to a collision, regardless of the police contract.

 

“The citizen should feel free — and not pressure, under any circumstances — to tow under any tow truck company they want,” Ibrahim said.

 

He believes other companies will be locked out — deepening what he calls a monopoly — if the bylaw is passed.

“The more we have competition, the more we have better prices, better for the citizen,” he argued. “There is a pie and we should all share it.”

 

Katolyk said he has heard other towing companies want more calls from the scenes of collisions, but it’s not city hall’s role, he says.

 

“The focus of this review is public safety and consumer protection and not how specific tow trucks operators can gain more business.”

 

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good read .

 

a problem i have noticed when i was towing was the cops then fire then ems would all dash there . then 5-10-14-20 min would go by then call for the next available tow truck would go out . then the 911 dispatch would call next on the list or closest available to the area depending on if city or country area the call is in . then 5 min later the cops would be going crazy were is my tow truck what the eta ? ?

 

the stuff you listed above is all very good points of the good company's and the bad company's . but my point should also be taken in to account . even if they have us stage 2 block out so we are ready and not impeding the flow of 1st res-ponders this would help clear the road faster / make the cops happy more / and take the stress level off of us tow truck operators so we are not racing to the calls to keep the cops happy .

ex-tow truck operator . ex- auto mechanic . just a nice guy trying to make a living and enjoy life .

1987 k30 chevy 1ton 4x4 built from scratch truck as my daily driver - work truck .

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