Connecticut panel approves 'quick clearance' tow rules

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/21/2015

A bill on the move at the Connecticut statehouse would give law enforcement authority to request that a vehicle blocking a busy roadway be removed by a wrecker service.

The Joint Committee on Transportation recently voted to advance a “quick clearance” bill that would exempt any police or traffic authority personnel from liability for damage to a vehicle or its load as long as “reasonable care” was used in the removal process. Wrecker services would also be indemnified from any liability.

Advocates say it is necessary to protect from liability tow truck operators who are clearing away wreck scenes in accordance with first responders in a timely manner.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and Motor Transport Association of Connecticut are opposed to including tow truck operators on the protected list.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said there is no circumstance where a wrecker service should be held harmless for damage that they cause to a motor vehicle, its cargo, and the surrounding area.

“Small-business truckers invest significant amounts of money in their equipment, and if damage is caused to it the offending party should be held liable,” Matousek wrote in testimony submitted to the committee.

“This legislation becomes more problematic depending on whether or not cargo is involved, such as refrigerated loads, hazardous materials, or other valuable or perishable commodities.”

MTAC President Michael Riley said that people should be held responsible for what they do. He cautioned about providing “blanket immunity” to protect “bad actors.”

“We don’t want to remove incentives to be safe, responsible and accountable,” Riley previously testified.

The bill, HB6817, awaits further consideration in the House.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Connecticut, click here.

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