Some kinks in the new towing policy

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The Los Angeles Times has a story on Houston’s new towing policy, with this toward the end:

Motorists can tell the wrecker driver where to tow the car, within 30 miles. Members of AAA and other auto clubs offering roadside assistance will not be allowed to wait for a private tow truck. That was news to Henry Martinez, 54, who was checking under the hood of his SUV at a gas station on Tuesday.

“My auto club guarantees they’ll be there in 15 minutes, and you mean I can’t wait for them?” he said. “They can tow the other guy, but don’t tow me.”

I seem to remember, back when this was being publicly debated prior to the city council vote, Dan Patrick or Edd Hendee of KSEV-700, discussing this issue. One of them was interviewing someone about the downside of this towing proposal (I think it was a city councilperson, maybe Addie Wiseman) and that person pointed out that drivers who are members of a roadside assistance program, such as AAA, would not be allowed to wait for their program to send a tow truck. That struck a cord with KSEV and its listeners and the next day someone on the pro-towing side was forced to called in to either Patrick’s or Hendee’s show and provide assurances that this was not the case.

My memory is not absolutely clear on the details, but I am fairly certain I remember the basics of those two interviews. If any readers remember that interview and the people who were interviewed, we would appreciate comments or emails helping clarify, or correct, those details.

The idea of rapid towing is great in theory, but the actual policy has some big kinks that need to be worked out:

Advocates for the poor pointed out that under the law, a car could be impounded if the driver could not immediately pay for the tow; to get their vehicle back, drivers would then have to pay not only the tow charge but storage fees for their car.

“The impact it will have on people who can least afford it is certainly an issue,” said Houston Councilwoman Addie Wiseman, who voted against the measure. “And senior citizens traveling through Houston in recreational vehicles run the risk of having to pay $1,500 for a heavy tow fee if their mobile vacation homes break down. This ordinance is flawed in every sense of the word.”

Two state lawmakers from Houston have talked to her about reviewing the measure after the Legislature convenes on Jan. 11, Wiseman said.

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