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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

City Councilman, AAA Mid-Atlantic: Violence In Philly Could Have Been Prevented

Here's the story from the Philadelphia Daily News:
City Councilman Frank Rizzo and AAA Mid-Atlantic said that a violent confrontation between two rival tow-truck drivers might have been avoided yesterday if police were adhering to the rotational towing system that's been a city law for two years now.

Rizzo, who sponsored the rotational-towing legislation, said he was tired of seeing "wreck chasers" speed to accident scenes and take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

The law was designed to put a rotational system in place, whereby towing companies sign up to be placed on tow rotation in a particular police district.

Then, when an officer responds to an accident scene that requires a tow, he calls police radio and the next tow company on the list gets the job.

But Jana Tidwell, AAA spokeswoman, said that in the two years that AAA has been signed up for the rotation in five districts, the company has received only one rotation call.

"From the information we've received from our tow-truck and fleet drivers, the law is on the books but it's not implemented as it should be," she said. "We're baffled."

Lt. Frank Vanore, police spokesman, said if a tow-truck operator arrives at the scene before police and makes an agreement with a motorist to tow a car, police do not override that agreement.

He said rotational towing is used when there is no tow company already at the scene or if a tow truck that's not on the rotation list shows up after police arrive.

"Usually the company is already on location," he said. "They ride scanners and they ride the street, and as soon as they hear the accident go out, they go to it."

Rizzo said he's frustrated by the lack of rotational-towing enforcement by police.

"They constantly give me excuses," he said. "If I was a police officer, I'd be embarrassed to say a wreck chaser gets to an accident faster than they do."

Rizzo, who said there are just as many wreck chasers on the streets today as there were before the bill was enacted, questioned the Police Department's new policy to not respond to minor vehicle accidents.

Vanore said the policy wouldn't apply in this situation because police still must respond to any vehicle accidents that require a tow or result in injury.

But, Rizzo countered, how do police know if a tow is necessary unless they respond to the scene?

"How do they know based just on a 9-1-1 call?" he asked.



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