Feb 07

Could The Wrecker Races Soon Be Over?

We’ve all seen them, along a freeway or on a street. Four or five tow trucks lined up to try and get a piece of the business at a scene of an accident. We’ve seen the drivers of those trucks snake their way down the emergency lane past the backed up traffic just to get in on it.

Could the days of the cowboy tow truck driver be numbered?

In a bill filed today in Austin, Senator Hegar offered:

Senate Bill 500: Relating to the establishment of a tow truck rotation list in certain counties; providing a penalty.

Let’s look at an example of this working. The city of Olathe, Kansas, just outside of Kansas City, implemented just such a program 15 years ago. Tow truck drivers argued it’s unfair, but the city proved them wrong. While it thinned out the number of renegade drivers (those that only have a truck or two), and gave better opportunities to the larger organized tow companies.

The tow companies realized that they now had a guaranteed tow once out of every so many incidents – a sure bet, when compared to the current Texas method of selection. Renegade drivers banded together to form larger companies, and everyone won. Best of all, the trucks themselves weren’t creating additional hazards by weaving through traffic to get to the call.

I saw this in action last fall, when I was visiting family near Olathe. The car I was riding in was rear-ended, pushing us into a vehicle in front of us. Olathe Police were called, and informed of at least one wrecker needed. Within a few minutes, both an officer and a single wrecker arrived. We were in the left turn lane on a very busy street, yet traffic continued to flow fairly smooth around the accident. Fortunately, we were able to drive away, but the wrecker driver offered to assist us with the trip home if we had further problems.

Here in Houston, of course we not only have the renegade drivers, we have SafeCLEAR. While the text of the bill is not as clear as I wish it was, it is possible that this could bear impact on it as well.

I guess we’ll just have to watch this and see, but if implemented in Harris County, it could make the roads much safer then they are today. It would also be much more fair to the tow companies then the current SafeCLEAR program is.

We’ll keep you posted.

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