The goal is to protect accident victims and stranded motorists from deceitful and potentially dangerous towing company practices. - Photo: Pexels/Andrew “Donovan” Valdivia

The goal is to protect accident victims and stranded motorists from deceitful and potentially dangerous towing company practices.

Photo: Pexels/Andrew “Donovan” Valdivia

Recently, several cities and states have implemented regulations to curb towing abuse and now the Windy City is following suit.

On May 19, Chicago’s Committee on License and Consumer Protection will hear arguments about proposed changes to the city ordinance, which would require additional licensing to improve towing safety.

Chicago ranks as the second worst city in the nation for towing abuses, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

The goal of the proposed changes to the ordinance is to better protect accident victims and stranded motorists from deceitful and potentially dangerous towing company practices, according to NICB.

Specifically, the suggested changes seek to strengthen licensing provisions for tow companies and implement stricter penalties if they are violated.

For example, when renewing or applying for licenses, tow companies must provide proof of a commercial vehicle relocator license, provide a statement certifying the applicant has never been convicted of a felony, and proof of insurance coverage. Once approved, a copy of the license must be placed in plain view within the tow truck and in each office in view of the public.

Under the proposed changes, if a tow operator in Chicago falsifies or lies on its application, the license will be revoked. Additionally, violating accident scene solicitation regulations will become a penalized offense. 

Several cities and states have already acted to curb towing abuse. Philadelphia implemented towing regulations proven to safeguard tow customers and reduce the potential for insurance fraud.

California passed regulations prohibiting tow companies from stopping at an accident scene unless called by the vehicle owner or law enforcement. The Golden state also requires all tow companies to provide written estimates of all charges to the vehicle operator before proceeding with a tow. Arizona has similar laws and Ohio allows civil action by insurers against a towing company operator to recover a vehicle. 

Millions of Americans have their vehicles towed each year, and too many are the victims of scams and abuse according to NICB. Nearly 50,000 towing businesses operate in the U.S., generating more than $8 billion in revenue, according to market research firm IBISWorld.

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