The state will start enforcing stricter regulations on the tow truck industry at the beginning of next year.
About 30 local tow truck owners and drivers met Friday with Benjamin Foster, the executive
director of the Board of Towing and Recovery Operators, and representatives of the Virginia Association of Towing and Recovery Operators’ Roanoke Chapter to discuss upcoming regulations to their ndustry.
Tommy Woods, vice president of VATRO, said the meeting, which was held at the Blairs Volunteer Fire Department, was called because of speculation, rumor and misinformation running through the industry about regulations due to go into effect on Jan. 1.
Woods and Robert Young, the director of the state association, said the regulations are being set up in two phases: general towing regulations and public safety towing regulations.
It is only the general towing regulations that will be put into effect in January, with public safety towing regulations following in 2010.
Foster said the laws regulating the industry and the decision to start a regulatory board came from legislators who said they got too many complaints from constituents unhappy with the service they received from some towing companies.
As a result, the Board of Towing and Recovery Operators was created in 2006 to begin the lengthy process of regulating the industry, Foster said.
Young said the regulations will help to make the industry more respected, but admits many tow truck operators are not pleased about being regulated at all.
“Do we all like what they’re doing? Absolutely not,” he said.
In January, all tow truck companies will have to be registered with the state and have decals on their trucks that show what class of towing the trucks are allowed.
All drivers will have to be fingerprinted and have background checks done, and have special authorization cards that allow them to provide towing services.
Fee schedules have not been set, Foster said, adding he expects new required decals to cost $5 to $10 per tow truck and registration fees to run between $250 and $500 a year, depending on the number of tow trucks each operator owns.
Foster said the general regulations would be finalized by October, which would give operators and drivers plenty of time to comply with the new rules by the first of the year.
Operators and drivers are being urged to contact the regulation agency to get added to its mailing list. In addition, Foster can be reached at (804) 367-0714 or by email at BTRO@btro.virignia.gov.
Not knowing about the changes in regulations will not exempt an operator or driver from disciplinary action, such as fines or the loss of their license, once the rules go into effect on Jan. 1.
Contact Denice Thibodeau at firstname.lastname@example.org or (434) 791-7985.