Mayor Brown Announces New Tow Truck Reform

May 18, 2012 Updated Oct 24, 2013 at 9:14 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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May 18, 2012 Updated Oct 24, 2013 at 9:14 AM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. ( WKBW ) Mayor Byron W. Brown, joined by Corporation Counsel Timothy Ball, Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda, and Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer, today announced his new Accident Scene Control and Cleanup Nine Point Reform Package. It aims to curb the alleged practice of tow truck operators racing to the scene of accidents to solicit business in an unruly manner, and also aims to establish certainty and order to the towing process when motorists are involved in motor vehicle accidents.

“We don’t believe it’s necessary for tow truck operators to race to accident scenes,” said Mayor Brown. “After reaching out to the City’s Corporation Counsel to review the existing ordinance, we implemented nine new reforms, effective this weekend, that will add clarity and order to the towing process at accident scenes in the City of Buffalo.”

The new nine point reform package is as follows:

· Creation of Authorized City Tower List

The Department of Parking will immediately create a list of authorized City towers that have the equipment, manpower and overall capacity to quickly and efficiently provide towing services for all City-ordered tows occurring within the City. This will be done by soliciting the qualifications and interest of any tow truck companies seeking to be in the rotation for City-ordered tows.

· Creation of a Weekly Rotation

The Department of Parking will immediately develop a rotation of authorized City towers who will be responsible for executing all city-ordered tows for one week, on a rotational basis. This simply means that under normal circumstances, Company A will be the City's authorized tower for Week #1, Company B for Week #2, etc.

· One Tow Truck Company On-scene

Once a Police Officer arrives on the scene of an accident, he or she will be responsible for assessing whether a tow truck is necessary to clear the scene of the accident of disabled vehicles. If a tow truck is necessary to tow any vehicles that are blocking the free flow of traffic, the officer will report it to Police dispatch, which will summon the assistance of the tow truck company on the rotation that week. ONLY THE AUTHORIZED TOW TRUCK OPERATOR ON CALL THAT WEEK WILL BE PERMITTED AT THE ACCIDENT SCENE.

· Parking Department assistance to clear the scene

At the same time a Police Officer is dispatched to an accident scene, so too will an on-duty Parking Department employee be dispatched. The Department of Parking employee will be responsible for cleaning up any accident debris and fluids so that the accident scene is in broom-swept condition as soon as practicable. The Parking employee will also be responsible for logging all City-ordered tows taken from the scene and for further documenting that only the City authorized tower for that week is performing City-authorized tows.

· Central Repository for Tows to be the Dart Street Garage

All City-ordered tows taken from the scene will be towed to the Dart Street garage, unless the vehicle is to be held for further Police investigation. The Department of Parking has established an area within the Dart Street garage for the drop off all such tows. The City-authorized tower for that week will have 24-hour access to the garage via a pass key and will be responsible for insuring that all vehicles towed from the scene are dropped off at the Dart Street garage.

· Motorists' Choice Preserved

In the event that a motorist's disabled vehicle is not blocking the free flow of traffic or obstructing the City right of way, the motorist can contact the towing company of their choice and have the vehicle removed from the scene to whatever facility they desire. If the motorist wants the vehicle towed, but has no tow truck company he or she can contact to perform such a tow, Police dispatch will dispatch the City-authorized tower to perform the tow and to drop the vehicle off at the Dart Street garage. Only after verifying that another tow-truck was summoned, as the personal choice of the motorist whose vehicle is not blocking the free flow of traffic, shall any tow-trucks other than those summoned by Police Dispatch be tolerated at the scene.

· Costs to be Controlled and Uniform

The charge for a standard tow shall be $80, as set forth in the City Code and $90 for a flat-bed tow. Storage charges shall be $25.00 per day, as set forth in the City Code. The Dart Street Garage, located at 166 Dart Street, will be open for vehicle retrieval Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

· Quick and Efficient Response Required

The tow truck company on rotation shall be responsible for arriving at the accident scene as soon as possible after being summoned by Police Dispatch and no more than one half hour after Police Dispatch contacts it. In the event of slow or unprofessional service, such incidents shall be forwarded to the Department of Parking for potential removal from the rotation and to the Department of Permit and Inspection Services for potential license revocation or suspension hearings.

· Contingency Plans in Place

In the event that multiple accidents occur at the same time involving a number of vehicles, which prevents the company on call from performing all tows in a timely manner, Police Dispatch will resort to contacting the next company on the list, which would be the company on the rotation for the following week.

In the event that a Parking Official is unavailable to respond to the scene of the accident, the tow truck company on the rotational wheel will be responsible for clearing the scene of the accident to broom-swept condition.

These steps are to be taken immediately and to be in place effective May 19, 2012.

Tow truck operators who don’t comply with the new regulations could face suspension or revocation of their towing license.

Mayor Brown stated, “This new ordinance will end disputes, improve towing coverage, dispatch efficiency, response time and driver convenience. It’s also about consumer safety and protection.”