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The Towie, Hero Or Villain?

If you are broken down on a dark night with the kids in the car and a tow truck comes to the rescue, the driver is a knight in shining armour, "a hero".

Yet in different circumstances that same driver could be the person who towed your broken down vehicle from private property as in the case of a recent television item. The circumstances do tend to influence your views.

Tow operators, who are a licenced industry frequently deal with thankful motorists, at breakdowns or accidents, They also assist the Police and other emergency services to clear the road after a crash.

Sometimes the tow truck is first on the scene and the driver will often render first aid assistance until an ambulance or doctor arrives. But the diversity of their job also means they have to deal with angry motorists from time to time.

In some cases they may become very defensive, which is understandable hence the stand off illustrated in the recent Gary McCormick case on television.

This television item has prompted the Motor Trade Association to speak out on ways of lessening the conflict in situations like this when negotiating with tow operators.

Motorists must understand that when an offending vehicle is towed from a public road, the towing fees are set by law. These fees range from $40 to $55 for a light vehicle depending on the time of day or day of the week There will also be a parking infringement fee to pay, the amount will depend on the infringement.

There are no set fees for tows from private property. Be careful when leaving a vehicle on private property, in a car parking building, super market car park or what may appear to be a private parking space for customers or staff.

There are some things you can do to lessen the likelihood of being towed away in the first place.

„h attempt to advise the owner or occupier of the property that your vehicle has broken down either by talking to someone in charge or leaving a note. Most reasonable property owners will understand.

- make arrangements to have the vehicle removed as soon as possible and advise the property owner of this arrangement.

- stay with the car just in case a contracted tow operator turns up and explain the situation to the driver. It is our understanding that if you have permission from the owner or occupier to remain there for what ever reason, the tow operator may not remove your vehicle.

- If you have done all of these things and still get towed, then you have good reason to appeal to the towing firm for a refund or reduction of the fees.

- If some difficulties occur and the tow operator is a member of the Motor Trade Association look under MTA in the white pages and give us a ring. We will mediate between the parties toward a reasonable solution.

If all of your efforts to resolve the issue are in vain then you would have sufficient grounds to take the matter to the Disputes Tribunal.

Whilst acknowledging the big contribution that towies make to road safety and good traffic flow particularly in urban areas, the motorist needs to understand the consequences of being towed from private property. These charges are not regulated. The Motor Trade Association would like to work with industry members to further explore better solutions.

The Motor Trade Association requires it's members to abide by a code of ethics and provide a quality service at a reasonable price no matter what the product or service. It is in the best interest of all businesses to take this approach as it leads to win win solutions and most of all a satisfied customer.

Trevor Burling
Project Manager, Motor Trade Association

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