Towing changes in Philly could involve parking authority

PHILADELPHIA - October 20, 2010

Now, if you're in an accident in the city, you could soon find your car locked behind the gates of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

A city council committee heard testimony on Wednesday on a proposed bill to reign in so-called "wreck chasers."

The bill is designed to end the deadly violence that has erupted between tow truck drivers in recent months.

The drivers race to accident scenes, and often fight over the job. The new regulations would put them on a strict rotation.

But, it would also prevent them from pressuring victims to let them tow the wrecks to their own holding lots.

Instead, they would have to be towed to neutral ground, giving the victim a chance to think about where they want the car towed for repairs.

That neutral ground is the Philadelphia Parking Authority impound lot.

Bill sponsor Jim Kenney says the Parking authority is open 24 hours, which makes it a better option than the private lots.

"If you're towed on Saturday night at 11:00 and you go to pick up your car on Sunday morning at 12:01? Two days storage," said Councilman James Kenney (D).

The tow operators say they'd have to go out of business without the daily storage fees.

Furthermore, they say the bill adds insult to injury, because accident victims' cars would be held by the Parking Authority until all outstanding tickets are paid.

"When you're just in an accident, and you just got out of the hospital, then you have parking tickets were weren't even aware of," said Jose Giral of Derkas Towing.

Councilman Kenney is hoping to have the bill passed by the full council next month.

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