SO, TOWING TRUCKS INCUR RS 1,400 LOSSES A DAY?

On Thursday, Mirror trailed a towing van for two hours across old city areas, and found it picking up many more vehicles than in the records (PICS: MANOJ BIDKAR, NIKHIL GHORPADE)
Traffic cops would have us believe a truck tows only 20 two-wheelers a day. Mirror tests the claim, only to find that they pick up a lot more, make huge profits, pocketing most of it

In a matter of two hours, a two-wheeler towing van from the traffic police department picked up nearly 30 vehicles crammed into no-parking zones in and around Laxmi Road on a rather lean Thursday, far belying the traffic police’s sorry claim of just 20 in an entire day.

Soon after a Right to Information (RTI) application prodded the traffic department into disclosing its daily towings — the costs involved and the earnings from fines imposed — a Mirror team went on a two-hour drive to check how many vehicles are actually being picked up by a towing van, which works on a contract basis. The survey busted quite a few of the myths the traffic police spun.

For instance, fines were being merrily collected by the contractors operating the vans, who were clearly not part of the traffic divisions and hence not authorised to collect any fine from commuters whatsoever.

“There is a huge nexus between the traffic police and the van operators. The police records show fines collected for only 20 vehicles per van per day. The rest of the amount which the operators amass from commuters does not go into the police revenue kitty, but into their own pockets and those of some traffic police personnel,” disclosed activist Azhar Khan, head of NGO Lokhit Foundation, who had filed the RTI with the Pune traffic police in September, seeking information about how many vehicles are picked up by each van.

In its reply to Khan’s query, the traffic department gave a break-up of the action taken by towing vans, claiming that every van picks up 20 vehicles in the whole day. The van operator gets Rs 50 for every two-wheeler, which adds up to a daily income of Rs 1,000 for each van operator. In the same reply, the traffic police also gave a break-up of the expenses incurred by the van operator, insisting that it was far more than the income. “The traffic police stated that the operators pay salaries to four assistants he employs and, taking into account the van maintenance and diesel expenses, the total expenditure goes up to Rs 2,400. This meant that every van operator was incurring a loss of Rs 1,400 per day. But, it’s difficult to believe that all the van operators are continuing to provide the service, despite incurring losses of Rs 42,000 per month,” Khan contended.

The Mirror team tailed a tempo attached to the Faraskhana traffic division in the afternoon and saw it picking up nearly 30 two-wheelers in the area around Laxmi Road in two hours flat, contradictory to the figures given by the traffic police. When one of the traffic constables was contacted, he let slip the actual figures on the condition of anonymity, saying, “In one round, we pick up six vehicles. And, we take at least six such rounds on a lean day like Thursday. We pick up around 60 vehicles in a day.” This was three times the numbers recorded by the traffic cops.

What’s worse, the employees of the van operator, whose job is only to pick up vehicles and bring them to the traffic division’s office, were seen collecting fines from the commuters. On Mirror’s queries, another traffic constable tried to justify the act. “We are facing a shortage of manpower. So, the pick-up van boys collect the fine money sometimes; but it is only the traffic police which issues the challan,” he maintained.

But Khan clearly spelt out the rules, saying, “Only the traffic police in uniform are allowed to collect the fine. They should also provide and additional receipt of Rs 50 as towing charges. However, most of the time, they do not bother with any such receipt. And that is on the rare instances when they actually collect the fines themselves. It’s mostly the towing van operators who gather the money.”

Deputy commissioner of police (Traffic) Pravin Munde gave Mirror the usual reply when apprised of the situation. “There are clear orders that no other person except police officials should be collecting fines and giving receipts. If persons other than police are collecting fines, I will conduct an inquiry and those found guilty will be punished.”

Till then, between themselves, traffic cops and van operators, have a fair amount of money in tow.

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More Tow Trucks Prowling Arlington? That’s What the County Board is Proposing

More Tow Trucks Prowling Arlington? That's What the County Board is Proposing

ARLINGTON, VA — The Arlington County Board is “upgrading and refining” its county code to deal with the “frequently contentious” issue of towing, the county said in a statement, and one of those changes involves letting more tow trucks into the county that will be prowling area parking lots.

The Board met on Saturday for its November Regular Meeting and will hold a Dec. 10 meeting to discuss “trespass towing” with the public. One of the proposed code changes involves increasing the distance a towing storage lot can be from the county boundary, which the Board claims would “allow for additional competition” among towing companies.

The Board made a number of other proposed changes to the county code as well, including approval of additional fees that towing operators would be able to charge.

“In the case of the maximum allowable fees for trespass towing, the Board is expected to match the State Code in allowing for up to two instances of an additional fee of $25 for a tow that occurs between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. on weekdays or on weekends and holidays,” the statementreads. “The County had authorized one flat rate throughout the week. Due to action by the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year, Arlington County and other Northern Virginia jurisdictions must allow for these charges.”

The Board is also considering a proposal that would require towing operators to provide the county annually with information ranging from storage facilities to state-issued driver authorization documents to proof of insurance coverage.

“These recommendations seek to provide protection to vehicle owners while balancing the needs of property owners and their customers,” Brian Stout, a legislative liaison for the County, said in the statement.

The Board will consider the following code adjustments:

  • Requiring more signs inside parking facilities to “identify additional parking restrictions should they exist”
  • Increasing from 3 miles to 3.25 miles the distance of towing storage facilities from the County boundary, to “allow for additional competition” among towing companies without adding an “unreasonable distance” for drivers having to retrieve their cars
  • Requiring that towing and recovery operators “properly secure all loads to meet all safety standards”
  • Noting in the code that “Nothing in this section shall release tow truck drivers from liability for failure to use reasonable care”
  • Removing a provision requiring towing drivers to document the condition of vehicles via photographs or video before they’re towed, a change designed to reflect the County’s lack of authority in damage claims

Image via Arlington County

Read more: http://patch.com/virginia/arlington-va/arlington-county-board-wants-allow-more-tow-truck-drivers-patrol-parking-lots

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What to know if you need a tow

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Tow truck towing a broken down car on the street.

Whether it’s a car battery dying, skidding into a ditch or crashing a car, towing companies offer important services for when a car is in an undrivable situation.

With winter approaching, the threat of ice, low visibility and low temperatures makes towing services in high demand.

Kyle Dirks, manager at Butch’s Auto, said doing preventative maintenance is crucial in order to avoid having to be towed.

Dirks said making sure you have enough gas in your gas tank, treating your gas tank as half is empty in the winter, as well as having windows scrapped of ice and snow are preventative measures that can help to avoid needing a tow.

Mark Hansen, owner of Mark Hansen’s Complete Automotive Repair Service, also said to take preventative measures to avoid having to be towed. Hansen said to examine your tires in order to make sure that they are full and in decent condition.

“Be proactive and not reactive,” Hansen said.

By preparing to drive, you can prevent having to be towed in the first place.

Although it is good to prepare, sometimes being towed is unavoidable. If you find yourself in need of a tow, there are things that can be done to help the process go smoothly.

David Williams, towing and recovery specialist at Central Iowa Towing and Recovery, said that one of the things that people can do to help with the towing process is to know where their car is located.

Without a location, a tow truck will take a significantly longer time in order to determine where the tow is needed.

In addition to knowing where your car is located, it is important that the towing company gets the keys to the vehicle.

Dirks said that not having keys is a common issue. By not having the keys to the vehicle, there is no way to get into the vehicle to put it in drive, or to turn the vehicle on to aid in the towing process.

If you are in need of a tow, it is also important to be prepared to wait.

“Be patient,” Dirks said. This is something that is easy to forget. There are other people that need to be towed, and a tow truck will not instantly show up after a phone number is dialed. Although you may be running late or panicking due to being in a bad situation, the tow truck will not arrive any faster.

It is also important to know that tow trucks cannot be on the road at all times.

Williams said that if a tow ban, a ban on towing issued if conditions are dangerous to tow in, is in effect, it could take a significant amount of time before tow trucks are allowed to go onto the interstate.

When the tow truck arrives, Williams said, it is best if you stay at a safe place to avoid getting injured and to avoid getting in the way of the towing company.

“No one plans a breakdown,” Hansen said.

It is important to remember that towing a car is not planned. By knowing what to do and staying calm, towing can be an easy process.

Read more: http://www.iowastatedaily.com/special_sections/article_fbd249fc-a63e-11e6-bac2-5b3851b6b4ce.html

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Illegal parking touts now using tow trucks to extort money from victims

Pix for representational purpose only. — AFP

KUALA LUMPUR: The next time someone wants to tow your illegally-parked car and demands payment, beware as they might just be out to make a quick buck.

Giving this warning today, City police Traffic Enforcement and Investigation Department chief ACP Mohd Nadzri Hussain said police arrested a drug addict for extorting money from car owners in exchange for getting their vehicles released.

Nadzri said acting on a tip-off, police deployed traffic personnel to the scene and nabbed the man who was driving an unlicensed tow truck.

“Checks on the suspect revealed that he is not licensed to operate a tow truck, plus the road tax of the truck had expired in 2012.

“The 35-year-old man tested positive for methamphetamine,” said Nadzri.

The victims’ vehicles were towed from a road near HKL, but not by the authorities.

On top of that, they were issued “compounds” for RM150 or more.

“When the owners refused to pay, the suspect would not release their vehicle,” said Nadzri.

Police are investigating if the suspect was operating under the orders of the hospital, the parking management of the hospital, or member of a syndicate.

Nadzri said the suspect was handed over to Dang Wangi police for further investigations.

The case is being investigated under Section 385 of the Penal Code for extortion, Road Transport Act 1987 and the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

He urged motorists who have fallen victim to such cases to lodge a report at the nearest police station to assist investigations.

Meanwhile, Nadzri also urged motorists not to pay parking touts and instead inform the traffic department at 03-20719999 if they are harassed by touts.

“I advise the public not to bother paying the touts, if they pay it is like encouraging them, so park at the proper car parks,” he said.

As of Nov 7, police had arrested 181 touts involved in illegal parking activity in the city and some have been charged in court.

“From Monday up until this morning, 28 people including six Indian nationals and an Indonesian have been arrested. Out of the number, 15 have been charged in court,” he said.

The immigrants will be investigated further under the Immigration Act on suspicion of misusing work permits.

Nadzri said he does not rule out the possibility that some hotspots were controlled by underworld gangs but to date, no connections were found that linked them to the activity.

“The arrested foreigners claimed they worked individually but it is impossible for them to work individually plus the money collected is not kept by them. We believe someone would make his rounds to collect the money from these touts,” he said.

Nadzri said stretches of roads housing entertainment outlets, such as Jalan Alor, Jalan P. Ramlee and Kg Pandan roundabout, are among the hotspots for the parking touts.

Shopping spots such as Jalan Chow Kit, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Kenanga are also hotspots for the touts.

Read more: http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2053122

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Tow truck stolen from business

An employee of Stanford Automotive at 66 Youngs Mill Road claimed his 1995 GMC work truck was stolen from the business between Thursday and early Saturday morning.

The man told LaGrange police officers the truck was last seen on the Madison Avenue side of the shop.

The vehicle also contained more than $8,000 worth of various towing tools and equipment, according to the employee.

The white GMC truck has “Stanford Automotive” stamped on the sides, a white camper shell on the back and strobe lights on top, a report stated.

The vehicle was valued at $3,500.

Convicted felon allegedly threatens to shoot relative

One man remains behind bar accused of threatening to shoot a relative with a gun at a home in the 900 block of Houston Street just before 1 p.m. on Friday.

Dion Fonterrell Jackson, 43, was arrested when LaGrange police officers found a handgun hidden inside a microwave in the house, a report stated.

The gun also was reported stolen more than two years ago, officers said.

The relative told police Jackson threatened to “blow her brains out” if they attempted to leave the home, according to the report.

The relative managed to get away, jump inside a car and drive to a secure location where they called police, a report read.

Jackson pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault in Nov. 2004, the report stated. He was sentenced to six years to serve two years behind bars; which Jackson completed.

Jackson was taken into custody on Friday and charged with simple assault under the Family Violence Act, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during certain crimes and theft by receiving.

DUI

One woman was arrested after a LaGrange police officer observed her 2005 Lincoln Navigator weaving in and out of lanes on South Davis Road about 5:45 a.m. on Saturday.

The officer stated he also smelled an odor of alcohol when he approached the SUV.

The woman failed a field sobriety test and blew a .227 during the preliminary breath test, a report stated.

She was charged with failure to maintain lane and DUI less safe.

• A driver was taken into custody by LaGrange Police after he crashed into a mailbox and a parked vehicle in the 700 block of Colquitt Street just before 2:30 a.m. on Saturday.

The man failed a field sobriety test and blew a .14 into the officer’s Breathilyzer, according to the report.

The driver was charged with DUI less safe and failure to maintain lane – both misdemeanors.

Read more: http://lagrangenews.com/news/18430/tow-truck-stolen-from-business

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Advantage Funding Expands Tow-Truck Finance Operations

Advantage Funding added Todd Chase to its growing sales force. Chase will serve as a sales manager of the company’s vocational truck business, specializing in tow-truck financing.

“Todd brings a lifetime of industry experience as an operator, advocate and financer that further enhances the Tow and Vocational Truck team at Advantage Funding,” said Kristian McCausland, head of sales for Advantage Funding. “Our clients expect to deal with people that understand their business and with Todd we further add to our team of industry experts.”

Prior to his appointment with Advantage Funding, Chase served as business development consultant for Northbrook, IL-based Beacon Funding. Earlier in his career he was the general manager of a family towing business.

Chase serves on the Executive Cabinet of the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA) and sits on the board of the Massachusetts Statewide Towing Academy, where he is a tow-operator trainer. Chase has also served as vice president of the Massachusetts Statewide Towing Association for 16 years.

“I have extensive experience with all aspects of the tow-truck market—operating, selling and financing,” Chase said.  “I look forward to expanding Advantage Funding’s market share in this industry and establishing many new relationships.”

Advantage Funding is a ground-transportation finance firm which focuses on companies in the commercial, vocational-truck and dealership spaces.

Read more: http://www.monitordaily.com/news-posts/advantage-funding-expands-tow-truck-finance-operations/

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Tow truck drivers rally to improve response to ‘Move Over’ Law

The drivers lined up to greet Governor Cuomo during a CNY visit

 

State’s ‘Move Over Law’ now applies to sanitation workers

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo arrived at the New York State Fairgrounds to announce Phase II of renovations, he was greeted by rows of tow trucks lining both sides of State Fair Boulevard.

Operators say the goal was to get help improving compliance with the State’s Move Over Law.

Most of the drivers lined up end-to-end could quickly name someone who died on the job.

“The last funeral we had to go to was for James Homkey in Canajoharie two weeks ago. He was the tow truck operator killed on the NYS Thruway,” said Tina Lyon, a tow truck operator.

On Friday, a NYS Thruway worker died when he was hit by a vehicle while helping two tow truck operators in Herkimer County.

Among the men and women lining State Fair Boulevard as the Governor arrived were workers from Northern Lights Auto Service in Mattydale, who buried their boss, Todd Young, five years ago this month.

“It devastated his family. Still to this day, there’s not a day that goes by that his family isn’t affected by it,” said Nathaniel Sherman, an employee of Northern Lights.

While New York law does require drivers to move over for tow truck operators – many workers say not enough people are paying attention when they see the flashing lights.

“Nobody takes them seriously really. Nobody is slowing down and moving over for the yellow lights because everybody has them,” Lyon said. “So, we are asking the Governor to amend the Move Over Law to allow tow truck operators to have the blue rear-facing lights, so when we do our job. It’s a little easier for the public to see.”

The law now includes sanitation vehicles in addition to tow trucks and emergency vehicles. Violators could be fined up to $400 and get three points on their license. Sherman says that’s not enough.

“It takes a blink of any eye for someone to lose their life….where a ticket – they can pay the fine and go about their day,” he adds. “Unless there are some real stiff penalties to the point where it sets into these people, they are not going to listen.”

Lyon says she has sent letters to the Governor, but hasn’t heard back. She organized the rally quickly after hearing he would be visiting the fairgrounds this week.

Her efforts reach beyond the state lawmakers – she wants every driver to think carefully as they hurry home at the end of the day.

“We’re usually competitors. But, for a cause like this we do band together as a whole and try to get the word out there,” she said. “Please slow down and move over because we all want to go home too.”

Read more: http://www.localsyr.com/news/local-news/tow-truck-drivers-rally-to-improve-response-to-move-over-law

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