One tow away from a really bad day

By Mike Matousek, OOIDA Director of State Legislative Affairs

Truckers are subject to endless and expensive – on occasion mindless – laws and regulations. Of course reasonable government oversight is needed to ensure our roads are safe, but excessive mandates can put truckers out of business and those that do nothing to improve safety are particularly concerning.

Unfortunately, there is another growing threat that can put a trucker out of business: non-consensual towing.

OHIO

You are encouraged to reach out to your Ohio state lawmakers and ask them to support towing reforms in HB382 and SB274. Ohio House lawmakers can be reached at 800-282-0253 and Senate lawmakers can be contacted at 888-644-6123. Simply let the operator know you want to reach your state lawmaker.

When a trucker is involved in an accident, regardless of fault, and the tractor and/or trailer is unfit for continued operation, local law enforcement or some other legal entity will dispatch a towing service to assist in the towing and recovery effort. Usually, this process works well. However, there are a few towing companies with a truly predatory business model and in some states there are virtually no protections or recourse for truckers.

OOIDA has been involved with towing invoices that are in excess of $50,000. In some cases, a towing company will send multiple rotators, wreckers, tractors, trailers and laborers to the scene of an accident. In short, bad actor towing companies will mobilize every resource they have – both man and machine – whether or not any of it is needed and you, the trucker, will be stuck with the tab.

Towing operations like this are beyond absurd, yet companies continue to get away with it. And make no mistake, it has and will continue to put truckers out of business.

Some states are fighting back and trying to do more to protect consumers. For example, Ohio is debating House Bill 382, a bill that would effectively re-regulate the towing industry, create a process to resolve disputes, and establish an advisory council to provide advice and recommendations to the legislature concerning other towing laws. OOIDA is working closely with the legislature to ensure that truckers and the trucking industry are represented on the advisory council.

Also in Ohio, Senate Bill 274 contains a section that deals with the removal of a motor vehicle from an accident scene, more specifically with the disposition of the invoice. It is certainly a step in the right direction, but OOIDA is working with the bill sponsor to provide additional protections.

Ohio’s towing reform effort, if successful, will have a positive impact on truckers and possibly save your small business from ruin. Here is to wishing them success and hoping other states take notice. LL