The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association isn’t the only organization that would like to add consumer protections for truck drivers who are forced to have their tractor-trailer towed. The Missouri Trucking Association hopes a towing bill in the Missouri House will become law.
HR749, which would create a towing task force within the Missouri Department of Transportation, passed the first round of approval with a voice vote on Tuesday, April 16.
The current system in Missouri offers no recourse to truckers who believe they have been overcharged for a nonconsensual tow, which is initiated by law enforcement with no opportunity for the trucker to negotiate services or compare prices. After a crash, the tow company is typically assigned based off a rotation list. OOIDA says it is not uncommon for the prices of nonconsensual tows to be inflated by thousands of dollars.
“It’s a situation where you’re not able to get bids,” Tom Crawford, president of the Missouri Trucking Association, told Land Line Now’s Terry Scruton. “You’re just kind of taking what comes to you … We’re hoping to get some processes in place that gives truckers the ability to resolve this issue in a timely and fair manner.”
The bill was introduced by Missouri Rep. Nate Tate in January. Crawford said the best chance for the towing bill to move forward this session may be by getting it attached to a larger transportation package.
“We will be working with OOIDA and our teams,” Crawford said. “If there is a transportation omnibus bill that gets put together, then we’re going to try to be a part of that and hopefully get that across the finish line. Barring that, we’ll keep pushing on this bill and see if we can push it across the finish line.”
OOIDA has worked in several states to add similar consumer protections for truck drivers. Testifying at the Missouri statehouse in February, OOIDA Manager of Government Affairs Mike Matousek shared with lawmakers examples of some of the towing bills truckers receive.
“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.”
The Missouri legislative session ends on May 17.
Land Line Now’s Terry Scruton contributed to this report.
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