Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s manager of government affairs, recently testified at the Missouri statehouse in support of two bills that would add consumer protections for truckers who are forced to have their tractor-trailer towed in the state.
Matousek told Missouri’s Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee on Feb. 21 that bill S323 would provide small-business truckers a means of contesting unreasonable charges regarding nonconsensual tows. A nonconsensual tow is one that is initiated by law enforcement with no opportunity for the trucker to negotiate services or compare prices.
“I had a lot of great questions from lawmakers on the transportation committee,” Matousek told Land Line Now. “What was eye-opening to them is that there is no recourse or no regulation whatsoever when it comes to nonconsensual towing of commercial motor vehicles in Missouri.”
Matousek also informed the lawmakers about some of the invoices that OOIDA members have received for nonconsensual tows in Missouri and in other states.
“One of the invoices I used was $43,000 that a member of ours in Missouri got in December,” he said. “I also highlighted some of the highest ones I’ve seen across the country – $250,000 in Pennsylvania, $185,000 in West Virginia, and $154,000 in New York. Those are some huge numbers, and it does get the attention of lawmakers when you bring those up.”
Missouri Sen. Lincoln Hough introduced S323, which would create a Commercial Motor Vehicle Towing Advisory Committee, comprised of government and industry stakeholders, tasked with developing recommendations regarding regulations for the towing of commercial motor vehicles but gives the state discretion for the adoption of those recommendations.
A similar bill, HR749, was introduced in the House by Missouri Rep. Nate Tate. OOIDA supports both bills as they would both give truckers a way to contest an invoice when they believe they were overcharged.
“Small-business truckers keep getting stuck with towing bills that are arbitrarily inflated by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars,” Matousek said. “The impact on them is financially devastating. There’s no meaningful recourse in Missouri, and the problem continues to get worse.”
Matousek added that the bill isn’t attempt to negatively affect towing companies in Missouri. Instead, the consumer protections are only meant to eliminate the bad actors who take advantage of the current system.
“The towing industry plays a vital role in recovering tractor-trailers when they are in a crash, and we need to have a healthy towing and recovery industry without question,” he said. “But that still doesn’t mean that they should be able to charge whatever they want with no consumer protections whatsoever.”
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