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Tow truck operators considered emergency personnel

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Justice of the peace rules that regional bylaw ‘inconsistent’ with provincial law


WATERLOO REGION — Any car crash is an emergency and a tow-truck operator arriving at the scene before police or paramedics should be considered emergency personnel.


That was a recent ruling by Justice of the Peace James Ziegler in a case where a local tow-truck operator was charged for contravening the Region of Waterloo bylaw and being within 200 metres of a crash site.


Ziegler said the province under the Highway Traffic Act recognizes that tow-truck operators can assist in emergencies.


"There are remote locations even in Waterloo Region where the first responder to an accident could be a tow truck operator," Ziegler wrote in the ruling.


And under the traffic act, tow-truck operators can be closer than 200 metres when there isn't another at the scene.

"In my opinion if a tow truck was first on a scene this could assist the preservation of the scene and safety of the affected parties particularly until the police and other emergency services arrived," he said.


The ruling stems from a case in which a tow-truck driver with Able Regional Towing and Recovery of Kitchener was within 200 metres of an accident and offered services to a woman involved in a crash on Bleams Road on Sept. 18, 2018.


Court was told the woman rear-ended another vehicle. The woman said the tow-truck driver arrived about 15 minutes after the collision, but she declined his offer for help because she was waiting on her brother.


Waterloo Regional Police arrived an hour after the crash. At that time, there were two tow-truck drivers on Bleams Road. The Able driver was parked behind a fire truck.


An officer charged him for contravening the regional bylaw.


In his ruling on Jan. 30, Ziegler said the regional bylaw is "inconsistent or conflicts" with the Highway Traffic Act.

Ziegler dismissed the charges against the tow-truck driver.


"The permission to tow truck operators to offer service in emergencies is paramount province wide and is binding on the region," he said.


In 2017, the region created a bylaw that prohibits tow-truck drivers to be within 200 metres of an accident scene unless called by police or the drivers involved in the crash.


The bylaw was put in place to address the safety of emergency personnel at the scene of the crash who are tending to victims. Police said it was not uncommon to see numerous tow-truck drivers show up at a crash all vying for business.


Regional director Kris Fletcher said the region is reviewing the court decision and considering options.


"At this time no decisions have been made on next steps," she said.


Police say they will continue to enforce the regional bylaw which requires tow-truck drivers to keep their distance unless called to the scene by police or a person involved in the crash.


"The bylaw is still in place as an enforceable piece of legislation, and as such, charges still apply until the legislation changes," said Const. Andre Johnson.



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Incident Responder , yes , First Responder, yes,    Emergency Responder, no 

For a Company owner this would be a Major Headache for the Training needed not to mention the Insurance side of this Issue that could relate to your Employee's actions. 🤯

Tow411 Member since April of 2007

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Incident Responder YES - Emergency Responder YES - First Responder NO


To Explain: As Tow Truck Operators we respond to incidents. We Respond to Emergencies, We are Rarely First on the Scene as we are not dispatched with Police, Fire & EMS unless it is an Emergency Incident which may require a Tow Truck to lift or move a vehicle and even then we wait for Fire and EMS to arrive should we make the scene prior to other Emergency Responders.


Insurance as it relates to a Private Company compared to a Government Service is a long discussion this industry has never addressed properly. Owners seem to understand where as the difference may not have been explained to the company drivers.

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