Creating a “more predictable environment” for truck drivers who need to have their tractor-trailer towed for an accident was the driving force behind the push for creating rules and regulations regarding nonconsensual heavy-duty tows, according to Colorado Motor Carriers Association President Greg Fulton.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission recently released a proposed set of regulations that would limit the maximum rates for various charges. Colorado Motor Carriers Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have both played a part in getting the proposal to this point.
A nonconsensual tow generally includes all law enforcement-dispatched tows to clear the roadway after an accident. In these situations, truck drivers aren’t afforded the opportunity to check the prices and services offered by multiple tow companies. It is not uncommon for heavy-duty towing bills to result in charges of $20,000 or $30,000. In some cases, commissions determined that the invoices were inflated by $10,000 or more.
“We want to set a more predictable environment out there when a law enforcement officer calls someone for a nonconsensual tow because of an accident or breakdown so that they know they’re not going to get ripped off,” Fulton said.
He said the proposal is about making the rules fair for everyone involved and that it isn’t intended to be a fight against the towing industry. Instead, the goal is to protect truckers from going out of business over a nonconsensual tow while still allowing tow companies to make a profit.
“The good news is that I think we will have something that will be fair not only to our trucking companies and our owner-operators, but also to towing folks,” Fulton said. “We know they need to make a living. We recognize that the vast majority of these folks try to do it right. But it’s pretty disturbing when we’ve seen these incredible tow bills. The fact is the margins are very thin, and these situations can push small companies and owner-operators over the edge.”
The CPU commissioners are expected to vote on the proposal soon. The proposed regulations would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.