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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tow Truck Drivers In Toowoomba, Queensland Want Fairer Deal

Tow truck drivers (from left) Justin Hinselwood, Kim O’Mara and Steve Wilson would like to see the introduction of a ‘crash roster system’ to regulate the industry in Toowoomba.
Here's the story from The Chronicle:

TOW truck drivers are being bashed and abused on Toowoomba's streets in a cut-throat industry they say needs to be more strictly regulated.

Managers from two of the city's biggest tow truck companies have called for more government regulation and the introduction of a roster system for tow jobs from car crashes.

Currently, drivers compete with each other at crash scenes for the right to tow damaged cars.

Kim O'Mara from 1300Towing said it was a scenario that often led to conflict.

Mr O'Mara said many of his drivers were hesitant to attend accidents at night for fear they would be assaulted.

He has even provided his drivers with compact body-worn video cameras to record conflict situations.

Steve Wilson from Wilson's Towing, which was started by his father Robert in Toowoomba in 1979, said he had personally been assaulted by other tow truck drivers at crash scenes.

“I have been punched and pushed — there is always verbal harassment,” Mr Wilson said.

“There have been threats to burn drivers' houses down.”

Both Mr Wilson and Mr O'Mara believe a rostering system for crash scenes would be effective to reduce the tension between tow truck drivers who are forced to compete for business in the chaotic situations.

Mr Wilson said Toowoomba police had an effective roster system up until the early 1990s, however, it was more of a “gentlemen's agreement”. But in contrast to the strong opinions held by Mr Wilson and Mr O'Mara, Sowerby's Towing manager Warren Iacono said the picture had been blown out of proportion.

Mr Iacono argued that a roster system would take away from the customer's ability to make their own choice at accidents.

This was refuted by Mr Wilson, who said the customer would first be given a choice of company and if they did not have a preferred towing company the job allocation would revert to the roster.

“The only reason they would want a roster system is because they're not the towing contractor for RACQ or NRMA in Toowoomba,” Mr Iacono said.

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