This put up is a part of a sequence sponsored by IAT Insurance coverage Group.
Firms that have interaction in disreputable towing — generally known as predatory towing — practices are preying on vans in areas identified to have an elevated frequency of crashes. They could even use nefarious means to contribute to chance of an accident. That is the newest rip-off affecting lengthy haul and transferring and storage trucking.
Living proof: A driver just lately incurred vital injury when trying to drive their tractor trailer below a Chicago bridge, whose “low bridge” signal had been suspiciously eliminated. As quickly because the accident occurred, an unsolicited tow truck appeared. Within the driver’s misery and haste to rectify the scenario as rapidly as potential, the driving force accepted towing providers with out a quote. Quickly after, the transferring and storage firm acquired a invoice for the $75,000 towing, a service that ought to have price round $2,500.
Whereas predatory towing scams like this and others are occurring across the nation and elevating considerations amongst fleets, they’ve been significantly outstanding in Chicago. A lot in order that Chicago’s Metropolis Council’s Committee on License and Shopper Safety handed an ordinance calling on town to determine a license for tow truck operators to corral rogue tow truck drivers who rush to accident scenes, snare broken autos and maintain them hostage till rattled truckers pay exorbitant charges.
7 Finest practices for fleet carriers
Fleets and truckers should defend themselves towards tow truck firms that run unlawful or unethical operations. The next finest practices supply key steering on your fleet.
- Plan your routes. Don’t let your truckers wing it when they’re choosing up items or hauling a load. Correct route planning is not going to solely guarantee security and improve driving effectivity by avoiding each identified and unknown hazards however may even incorporate breaks and assist decide the most effective route relying on what time of day a trucker is on the highway. Digital route planning instruments can be found to assist with this as properly.
- Be suspicious. Towing firms standing by on the scene when an incident happens is just not the norm. Practice your drivers to be looking out for scamming tow vans ready within the wings. Put together your drivers earlier than an accident takes place to alleviate pointless stress; inform them that they might not be answerable for the underpass they only clipped if the low bridge signal was illegally eliminated, for instance. That data ought to assist them assume extra clearly in these conditions.
- Name the police. Summon them to the scene and request an accident report. If this does occur to you or certainly one of your drivers, ask native police on the scene for steering on choosing respected, native towing firm.
- Get it in writing. Ensure the price of a tow is in writing — not open-ended — with all expenses clearly itemized. Keep away from verbal agreements in any respect prices. Signed paperwork with clear price pricing is important to defending the fleet from being scammed. Ask for the towing firm’s enterprise license and, if potential, verify the data earlier than accepting any help.
- Have protocols in place for coping with accidents. This contains contacting managers and dispatchers straight away, calling the police and stopping drivers from signing or authorizing a tow with out administration approval. Offering drivers clear protocols beforehand considerably reduces the likelihood of constructing a mistake when a tow is required.
- Take into account partnering with towing firms. Establishing agreements with nationwide or native towing firms the place your fleet frequents may also help your group sidestep dishonest tow vans. With such agreements already in place, truckers can instantly contact these firms, avoiding the necessity to supply one on the spot.
- Report back to native officers. In case your driver or fleet falls prey to a shady towing incident, attain out to native officers for help. Reporting all of those incidents will assist native jurisdictions take regulatory motion to stop this from taking place once more, as they did in Chicago.
Even with all these precautions in place, towing is pricey. Components like the burden and measurement of the truck and the gap to be towed legitimately influence the worth. Consequently, fleets must also not assume they’re coping with a nefarious towing firm if they’re taking a look at an costly quote.
Because of the rise in these situations, the American Transportation Analysis Institute is asking motor carriers and drivers to take part in information assortment on the influence of predatory towing. Discover the hyperlink to the brief survey here.
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By Chris Parker
 American Trucking Associations “The American Trucking Association, American Property Casualty Insurance Association, & the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud join forces to tackle towing fraud across America,” April 5, 2021.
 Chicago Solar-Instances “Aldermen endorse effort to corral ‘Wild West’ of rogue tow truck drivers,” Might 19, 2021.
 FreightWaves “Route planning tool helps drivers overcome daily frustrations,” April 27, 2022.
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