City council passes bill targeting predatory towing practices

Bill 160682, spearheaded by Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez, requires towing companies to summon Philadelphia police or the Philadelphia Parking Authority to issue a ticket before hauling cars away.

The new law will seek to guarantee that vehicles being towed were parked illegally. But cars parked illegally at Philadelphia hospitals can be towed without police or PPA approval.

alleged towing scam south philly

Tow truck drivers told 6ABC that the bill is unfair and punishes the towing industry as a whole, instead of punishing a handful of operators engaging in predatory towing or bait-and-trap schemes.

“How could those who do parking lot and driveway enforcement be predatory, when it’s the property owner, or the management company, who is calling us to tow these vehicles,” Lew Blum of Lew Blum Towing told the news station. “They have us mixed up with another part of the industry.”

The big question that remains is how the city will enforce the new rule in 30 days. Truck drivers told NBC10 that they’re not sure how long it’ll take police to issue tickets or who even to call.

The city Department of Licenses & Inspection won’t be able to handle the volume on its own, which is why the city plans on contracting with a third party.

The bill’s passing comes months after numerous drivers said that they were victims of an alleged bait-and-trap towing scheme in South Philadelphia in August.

The story was similar for many – the drivers would park at a seemingly open spot on South Broad Street and Washington Avenue. But on their return, the car would be gone with a “no parking” sign from George Smith Towing suddenly in place where their vehicle had been parked.

Facebook videos posted by Chris Norman who lives above the allegedly targeted spot have documented a handful of incidents.

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The following blog post City council passes bill targeting predatory towing practices was originally published on Apex Towing – Dublin



Philadelphia city council approved a measure on Thursday aimed at cracking down down on ‘rogue’ tow truck drivers.

That legislation is designed to reign in an industry that, some say, steals cars off the street through various, unscrupulous tactics.

An Action News Investigation exposed a number of shady practices earlier this year.

The plan would make tow truck drivers wait until a vehicle has a parking ticket before they can remove it.

Earlier in the day, independent two truck drivers lined the streets outside City Hall with their vehicles, blocking a lane of traffic.

They were there to protest legislation that they consider to be unfair.

The bill’s backers say it is a measure to crack down on rogue drivers, or private companies that remove cars that are not parked illegally.

“It’s hard to legislate for bad actors and we know that and we’re committed to working with the industry and, as a city, doing our part to come up with a better system. But in the interim, we’ve got to stop what we’ve blatantly seen, which is some folks stealing cars,” said Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez.

The measure passed 15-1 despite the concerted opposition from legitimate drivers and a key council member.

“I understand her good intentions, but the devil’s in the details, and these independent contractors who are tax paying, law abiding, non-predatory, are in business. As we try to fix something, they’re going to put them out of business,” said Councilman Curtis Jones.

“We do everything we need to do as far as paying L&I for our licenses, paying taxes, hiring people in the city of Philadelphia, and it’s pretty much going totally against us,” said Anthony Kitt of Kitt’s Towing. “We have no say and no option.”

Even high profile, long-established, big money tow truck operators were at City Hall to protest the towing industry reforms.

“How could those who do parking lot and driveway enforcement be predatory, when it’s the property owner, or the management company, who is calling us to tow these vehicles,” said Lew Blum of Lew Blum Towing. “They have us mixed-up with another part of the industry.”

The new regulations will be implemented fully in 30 days.

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Nissan Motors Japan Introduces Fully-Automated Towing System At Oppama Plant

Nissan Motors Japan has successfully introduced Intelligent Vehicle Towing (IVT), a fully-automated towing system at its Oppama production plant.

The IVT system uses a modified Nissan Leaf electric vehicle to autonomously tow trollies which carry finished cars between designated loading and unloading areas within the plant.

Unlike conventional automatic guided vehicle systems for transporting parts, which often require the installation of rails or extensive use of magnetic tape, this system does not need any special infrastructure to operate.

The towing car is equipped with an array of cameras and laser scanners that detect lane markings, kerbs and potential obstacles or hazards around the vehicle. By cross-referencing this information with map data, the towing car calculates its own location, negotiating the route to its destination unaided. The towing car travels within the speed limits of the factory, and automatically stops if it detects an obstacle or hazard ahead, before setting off again when it has determined that the road ahead is clear.

The towing route can be altered to accommodate changes in production processes or vehicle transport routes. All driverless towing cars are connected to a central traffic control system, which can monitor the location, driving speed, remaining battery and operational status of each vehicle. When two driverless towing cars meet at an intersection, the control system’s algorithm determines which car should be given right-of-way, and in the case of emergency, the system can stop the vehicles remotely.

The Oppama Plant’s existing logistics system requires finished vehicles to be transported from the end of the production line to the facility’s dedicated wharf by a team of drivers, at which point they are loaded onto ships. With the introduction of the IVT system, Nissan hopes to improve production efficiency.

Trial operations of the system began roughly a year ago and more than 1,600 test runs have been carried out at the plant. The data acquired has been utilised to ensure that the system can operate reliably within the plant’s premises.

A safety system and a fail-safe system have been developed to counter potential risks or unexpected conditions the IVT system may face during autonomous driving, including adverse weather and low light conditions.

Nissan’s continued testing at the Oppama Plant provides an effective testbed for further implementation at other manufacturing facilities both in and outside of Japan. This new project, which utilises mapping and communication technologies to link an intelligent, all-electric car to surrounding infrastructures and is a step towards realising Nissan’s Intelligent Integration aspirations.

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Excavator extraction lands Tomlinson’s Towing on cover of Tow Times


In a career that spanned more than 60 years, Bill Tomlinson has been called on many times to contend with recovery and tow jobs the likes of which most tow operations will never see.

“Our motto has been ‘If it flies, floats or rolls, we can handle it,’” said Tomlinson, who retired from Tomlinson’s Towing in January of 2014 after operating the business since 1966.

He originally bought the business from his father who started it in 1946, and sold it to Dean Zifko, who continues as the business’s current owner.

During his tenure, Tomlinson has an unmatched record of success in recovery and towing.

“We never turned any work down, and we never came home empty,” he said with evident pride. “We had a standing offer — if we don’t pull it, we don’t charge. But we’ve never done one for nothing.”

This summer, as work proceeded at top speed to replace a pair of bridges on State Highway 13, south of Ashland, that record was challenged by a difficult recovery that was literally one for the books.

At about 10 a.m. on Aug. 30, Tomlinson Manager Brenda Hebert got a call from a road crew supervisor asking if the firm could assist in recovering a piece of equipment that had sunk in the mud at the construction site at Trout Brook, near North York, about 16 miles south of Ashland.

“I asked the usual questions,” Hebert said. “Where is it, what’s the problem, what type of equipment? When the supervisor told me it was a 120,000 pound excavator, I sat up straight in my chair”

Hebert asked how deep the excavator had sunk in the mud.

“Real deep,” was the reply.

At first, tow operator Brandon Bowers went to the scene to scope out the problem, only to be told that the construction company would try using their own equipment to haul the stuck excavator out of a 12-foot hole.

“That didn’t work real well,” said Tomlinson. “The only thing they accomplished was sinking it two feet deeper.”.

At that point, the contracting firm admitted defeat and called Tomlinson again.

“Just do what you have to; I need this out,” said the exasperated supervisor.

Zifko began to assemble a recovery team and called on the grand old man of Ashland towing and recovery, Bill Tomlinson, and his son Bob to lend a hand.

When the crew arrived at the scene, one road crew worker looked at the trio of smaller wreckers and snorted derisively “What are you going to do with those Tonka Trucks?”

Bob Tomlinson replied that he aimed to get the excavator out.

The man laughed and told Bob he was wasting his time.

“I’ve never walked away from a job I haven’t finished,” Bob replied.

What Tomlinson knew and the construction crew didn’t understand is that recovery isn’t simply a matter of brute force yanking a vehicle out. Rather it is a symphony of applied pressure in the right spots.

“It’s all about mechanical advantage,” Tomlinson said, recalling the words of the Greek mathematician, physicist and engineer Archimedes who said, “Give me a lever long enough, and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world.”

“It’s true, there are much larger trucks out there than what we had, but if you don’t know how to run them, they are worthless,” Tomlinson said. “It’s knowing what to do.”

Leverage is the key. The block-and-tackle mechanism of a tow truck uses the law of leverage to increase the power applied to a recovery problem. When the force is spread out over key points, smaller equipment can accomplish amazing results.

“At our annual tool show, we took an empty tractor/trailer and laid it on its side and rigged it up using a block and tackle. Then we had 12 10-year-old kids, six on each line, and they pulled it over by hand,” Tomlinson said.

In this case, using a D-6 Bulldozer as an anchor point and an estimated 19 lines connecting the entire rig, some 253,000 pounds of force was exerted to slowly, oh so slowly, pull the enormous excavator up the hill.

It was a demonstration of how to use applied physics to succeed, but that didn’t mean it was easy.

“In a grade like that, with all that suction, it pulled hard,” Tomlinson said.

In the end, despite a minor setback and some re-rigging, the excavator was brought up out of the hole.

“Everybody was amazed,” Tomlinson said.

The whole exercise had taken just four hours.

Bill and Bob Tomlinson both said it was the biggest job they had ever undertaken.

Word of the tour de force reached Tow Times magazine, the International publication for the towing and recovery industry. They got the story and pictures of the recovery.

“Usually they put pictures of fancy towing trucks on the cover, this time they put the excavator recovery on it,” Bill Tomlinson said.

For a tow and recovery man, getting the cover of Tow Times is akin to making the cover of the Rolling Stone for a rock star.

“I went to the post office and saw the envelope, and I was anxious to see if they had the story in this month, and there it was, right on the cover,” he said. “I was astonished, to say the least. We’ve been in Tow Times a number of times, but never on the front cover.”

Material from Tow Times was used in the creation of this report.

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Excavator extraction lands Tomlinson’s Towing on cover of Tow Times was originally published on Apex Towing – Galway Blog

Englewood unveils revisions to towing ordinance

ENGLEWOOD — The City Council unanimously introduced an amendment to its towing ordinance Tuesday, setting higher tow fees for some vehicles and requiring minimum lot sizes for tow operators on city business.

Under the proposal, city-licensed operators must respond to calls within 20 minutes; three missed or late calls makes the tower subject to losing its license. The amendment also says towers must have a secure lot big enough to house 25 cars.

The amendment also changes the fee schedule so that towing companies can charge:

  • a single, flat fee of $120, up from $95, for Class 1 vehicles up to 6,000 pounds;
  • a single, flat fee of $160 for Class 2 vehicles between 6,001 and 12,000 pounds;
  • $300 per hour for heavy-duty vehicles between 12,001 and 26,000 pounds;
  • $400 per hour for vehicles larger than 26,001 pounds.

The amendment adjusts a measure adopted in November, which set a 20-minute limit, but a minimum lot size to hold 10 cars. The ordinance was based on recommendations made in May. A more recent proposal by Police Chief Lawrence Suffern and Sgt. Robert Zimmerman — which stipulated a 15-minute limit and a lot size for 50 cars — was not received by the clerk in time for the November action.

During a Nov. 30 special meeting to discuss the amendment, the council tweaked the minimum lot size to allow for 25 cars so as not to exclude one of the borough’s six applicants.

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Nissan demonstrates driverless cars towing other vehicles at plant in Japan

Nissan testing self-driving cars at one of its plants in Japan (AP)1

Nissan testing self-driving cars at one of its plants in Japan (AP)

Nissan is testing self-driving cars at one of its plants in Japan that can tow vehicles on a trailer to a wharf for loading on transport ships.

The tests also can add to knowledge needed to take such autonomous driving onto public roads.

Nissan executive Haruhiko Yoshimura said the company hoped to use the technology throughout the Oppama plant by 2019, and in overseas plants in the future.

During a demonstration, a Leaf car with no one inside drove along the road, pulling a trailer with three other Leafs on it, stopped properly for other vehicles, and then veered into a car park.

But one vehicle ran into trouble, refused to move and was not able to take part in the demonstration.

Kazuhiro Doi, a Nissan vice-president, acknowledged such glitches showed a challenge unique to the technology.

“If there are drivers, they can take action,” he said. “Mechanical operations are all there is in a driverless car.”

People still had to get inside each of the towed vehicles to drive them to the proper wharf, but Nissan hopes that as self-driving technology advances, cars will drive themselves into the ships on their own.

Driverless cars are still not allowed on regular public roads in Japan, although major carmakers are all working on such technology. Driverless driving is legal within private facilities such as Nissan’s.

Nissan, allied with Renault SA of France, has been carrying out tests with driverless towing since last year.

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Learn About The Dangers Of Towing

If you’re thinking about doing some towing, and you also think that all the concern over weight distribution on the trailer is a load of crap perpetrated by the weight-distribution lobby, then I really suggest you watch this little video. Because what’s funny with toys is terrifying in reality.

This demonstration, which seems to come from the Ontario Police Commercial Vehicle Committee, is so wonderfully simple and effective. The little Mustang (the tow vehicle of choice for most discriminating towers) is pulling a trailer with two sets of weights: one at the front, one at the rear.

When more of the weight is at the front, things remain quite stable. Even a shove at the rear of the trailer by a massive Hand of God can’t really do all that much to discombobulate the trailer.

But once more weight is placed at the rear, that little lateral shove starts all kinds of pendulum-like swinging and trouble; it’s amazing how rapidly the system gets uncontrollable.

This is even likely less bad than a full-scale, real-world situation would be, because that conveyer belt is going at a steady, constant speed, and the car’s front wheels remain rigidly straight. In reality, once the swinging starts, the Mustang driver would likely be alternating cranking the wheel in a panic while jamming on the brakes, taking some time between these two acts to lavishly soil their pants.

So, take it from some toys on a conveyer belt: be careful how you distribute the weight of what you tow!

Also, it’s probably good there weren’t a bunch of Lego minifigs on the side of that conveyer belt, or that toy Mustang would have tried to plow them down.

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