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Motion to discourage ‘predatory’ tow truck drivers goes before London committee

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

Tow trucks drivers might have to apply the brakes on what one London city councillor calls the “predatory business practice” of racing to the scene of a car crash and using high-pressure tactics to secure business.

Ward 2 Councillor Shawn Lewis’s letter, written on the heels of a first-hand experience with “chaser” towing services after a crash in December, is being discussed at Tuesday’s community and protective services committee meeting. Lewis is urging the committee to craft a bylaw that would restrict how close a tow truck can be to the scene of a crash, and would ban them from hooking a vehicle without first being asked to do so.

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

Although Ross’ Towing and Transportation has an exclusive contract to handle police requests for tows, drivers are free to call the towing company of their choosing. Lewis writes that some businesses are listening to emergency radio scanners and following ambulances in an effort to be the first towing company on scene.

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Speaking with 980 CFPL’s The Craig Needles Show, Lewis has said there are great towing companies in the city but his motion aims to single out “rogue operators” that sometimes create dangerous situations while racing other vehicles responding to a crash.

READ MORE: Tow truck driver refuses to give Toronto man’s van back unless more than $12K paid

Once they arrive, these operators are known to use aggressive sales tactics, the letter says.

“The rates these operators charge is unregulated, leaving a Londoner who has just had the unfortunate, often traumatic experience of a car accident vulnerable to predatory business practices.”

Tow truck drivers aren’t allowed to offer services to a person that’s within 200 metres of the scene of a crash on the 400 series highways. Similar municipal bylaws already exist in communities across Ontario, including Toronto and Waterloo.

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