The seedy underbelly of the tow-truck business has been exposed by the Discovery Channel’s Wreck Chasers, and the city wants a piece of the action. The Philadelphia City Council is looking into taking over the dispatch job from 911 operators, and handing it over to the Parking Authority.
The proposed change has been fueled by tow truck drivers racing to the scene of an accident, and then fighting over who will get to tow the damaged vehicles. In September, one driver was run over and killed because of an argument over who would get to tow the vehicle.
The city says the current system is broken, and that 911 operators simply make calls from an approved list from the city’s Department of Licenses and Fees. Because the department is short-staffed, the job is not being done properly and the public interest is endangered.
Critics were also concerned about towers taking damaged vehicles to body shops where they might have some special relationship. Instead, the city would prefer to have the disabled vehicles towed to a Parking Authority lot.
Towers argued that if they were required to do so, consumers would have to pay for a second tow to get their cars fixed, while the city countered that most repair shops would pay for the tow in order to get the business.