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London councillor pushes for crackdown on ‘predatory’ tow truck operators

A motion aims to single out those who are "for lack of a better description, rogue operators" racing to the scene of a crash. .
A motion aims to single out those who are "for lack of a better description, rogue operators" racing to the scene of a crash. . File / Getty Images

One city councillor is looking to curb what he’s described as the predatory practice of so-called “accident-chaser” tow trucks.

Shawn Lewis’ motion is inspired by his own personal experience, following a crash in December that, fortunately, did not result in any injuries.

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“After I started talking about it, I had a lot more people say, ‘Hey, this has happened to me too.'”

Lewis notes there are some great towing companies in the city, but this motion aims to single out those who are “for lack of a better description, rogue operators” racing to the scene of a crash.

“In some cases, creating dangerous situations on the road, racing by other vehicles that are on their way to respond to an accident.”

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Drivers are free to call the towing company of their choosing, but Ross’ Towing and Transportation has an exclusive contract to handle police requests for tows, a situation that’s resulted in some other businesses listening to emergency radio scanners or following ambulances so they can arrive on scene first.

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“Ross has all the necessary things that met the police contract needs so they have that contract,” Lewis explained.

“We’ve got these accident-chasers showing up, rushing to the scene ahead of them to try and pressure folks and in some cases even hitching up the vehicles and lifting them without the owners’ consent.”

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In a letter to the Community and Protective Services Committee, which will be received and discussed at a meeting on Jan. 22, Lewis requests that members support a push to direct staff to prepare a draft bylaw to address the issue, noting that similar bylaws are already in place in other Ontario municipalities.

Lewis suggests requiring that unsolicited tow trucks stay a minimum distance away from a crash scene and banning tow trucks from hooking, lifting or connecting a vehicle to a tow truck without first being asked to do so.

— With files from 980 CFPL’s Natalie Lovie