Cities revise towing policies

New policies that spell out specific rotation procedures and services required for local towing companies, along with the maximum fees they can charge, have been implemented by Statesville and Troutman.

The new regulations will be used when local police require a tow truck at the scene of an accident or breakdown and the vehicle operator or owner does not have, or is unable to indicate, a towing company preference.

Officials in both municipalities indicated that, while most of the local towing or "wrecker" companies had in the past provided quality services at reasonable costs, the regulations still needed to be updated.

"We had an incident not long ago in town whereby a female operator's car broke down and she left it on Wagner Street," Troutman Police Chief Matthew Selves said. "Under our existing wrecker policy at the time, the county dispatched a wrecker company off their rotation list which provided less than satisfactory performance. This new policy is an effort to prevent a reoccurrence of such an incident."

The policies are virtually identical, with the exception of minor variances in the fees towing companies can charge.

The new policy "forms an agreement with the towing services so they know what is expected of them and what consequences could be imposed for failure to comply," said Statesville Police Capt. Joseph J. Barone.

Some highlights include:

Towing/wrecker companies must respond with 30 minutes and be available on a 24/7 basis.

Towing companies are required to respond to at least 75 percent of police requests.

The wrecker company is responsible for clearing the roadway of debris at an accident scene (not including hazardous materials or spills covered by the responding agency).

The company must be available during regular business hours and by appointment on weekends to release vehicles to owners or the police.

Clear signs indicating company name and address must be displayed on tow trucks.

The maximum towing fees that may be charged are:

Non-collision during standard business hours: $125.

Non-collision after hours, and on weekends: $150; $155 in Statesville.

Crash towing service during standard business hours: $150; $155 in Statesville.

Crash towing after hours, and on weekends: $175.

Daily Storage: $25 outside; $40 inside.

Additional fees are permitted when tow companies are required to use heavy duty wreckers or other special equipment for incidents such as an overturned vehicle.

The new policies also contain a specific schedule of demerits that will be applied when a company fails to perform in a satisfactory manner. Any company accumulating six demerits will be removed from the rotation list for 90 days. In addition, towing companies responding to scenes when not called by police may be suspended or removed from the rotation lists.