Missouri lawmakers approve OOIDA-backed towing rule changes

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, May 12, 2016

As the clock winds down on the Missouri regular session, state lawmakers have forwarded a bill to the governor’s desk, which includes a provision to change towing rules in the state.

House lawmakers voted 122-29 on Tuesday, May 10, to sign off on Senate changes to a bill that covers motor vehicle extended service contracts and the use of rotation lists for towing. Specifically, HB1976 would make the Missouri State Highway Patrol responsible for setting up rotations to tow or remove disabled vehicles at accident scenes.

Troopers would be prohibited from calling on tow operators from outside the state, except under certain circumstances that include the driver or owner’s request.

Tow operators already on the scene of wrecks when law enforcement arrives could be dismissed in favor of a listed wrecker. Additionally, towers who stop and tow a vehicle from the scene of a wreck without having been called by the vehicle owner or contacted from the rotation list could face fines and the possibility of the tow truck being impounded.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association communicated to state lawmakers an opposition to setting up rotation lists. The Association pointed out that rotation lists can result in truckers and others paying two to three times more to get towed.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, has said the Association receives no complaints about existing rules on arranging for towing services from its nearly 7,200 Missouri members.

At the urging of OOIDA, one provision included in the legislation would allow the Highway Patrol to remove any towers from a rotation list for any reason.

“The changes we requested provide the Missouri State Highway Patrol with authority to maintain any wrecker rotation list as they see fit,” Matousek said. “Meaning, they can remove a bad actor at their discretion.”

A separate revision would retain the right of carriers to call a tow company in lieu of using a listed company.

“These are important consumer protections as it relates to nonconsensual towing,” he said.

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

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