Bill 30 will change how tow trucks respond in Ontario

By Anna Davey Toronto, Ontario — December 1, 2015 — Gila Martow, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Thornhill, introduced a private members bill, Bill 30, this past October to change the way tow trucks respond to highway accidents. “Once an incident is detected and confirmed, the response and clearance must be managed so as to preserve and protect human life, maintain a reasonable level of safety for all participants, minimize delays to the travelling public, and minimize damage to public and private property,” said Martin. “In a major incident, these are complex and often competing factors. Successful incident management can be facilitated by high-tech equipment, but is largely dependent on inter-agency coordination, education and on-site personnel.”

The new bill, called the Highway Incident Management Act, is labeled the “missing piece” to Bill 15, which passed legislature in 2014 to create new regulations for the towing industry, as well as introduce new regulations regarding storage fees. Bill 30 would require an advisory committee to be established by the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) within two months of its passing. It would further require that eight months later, the committee would provide a report explaining how the government would provide public education programs to improve driver behaviour relating to highway accidents. The report would also study how best to provide accurate and timely information about highway incidents to drivers. Supporters of the new bill are optimistic it might reduce some of the paralyzing gridlock in the GTA. Joey Gagne, founder of Abrams Towing and an executive with the Provincial Towing Association of Ontario (PTAO), spoke with Collision Repair magazine about the issues the committee will need to look at to improve response times. “I don’t think they’re trying to speed it up as much as they are trying to clean up the process,” he says. “There are a lot of moving parts here. This committee will flesh out some of the issues around how it is the fire, ambulance, tow trucks, and police respond to a scene. It’s a good start.” Gagne also explained why the PTAO was an accredited commentator when during the writing of the bill. “We wanted to have some input. The PTAO has great interest in this bill. In our view, there is no incident management plan for tow trucks right now. But we need that. We want to help them to come up with some good ideas. In lots of other places they have systems that are working well. The tow truck doesn’t need to get to the scene of the accident before the police officer.” Gagne added that he would like to see a management system where the police officer arrives at the scene of the accident and begins the report before the tow truck operator is called. “If you let the police get there first, you will eliminate tow trucks racing to the scene. You can get someone there in reasonable time, within 20 minutes. Trucks will begin moving to the area when they hear it on the radio. Buy have the officer get to the scene first and see what needs to be done,” he says. “You’re going to be fine. They’ve got people chasing the scene right now, and that’s chaotic. It’s no good for anyone. We’re hoping that the process is something that can lead to good management of the scene. The current system hurts the tow operators, too.” Bill 15, the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, passed into law in 2014, and changed the Consumer Protection Act to require towing and auto storage providers to publish their rates. Bill 15 also required tow operators and storage providers to accept credit card payments and provide itemized invoices before receiving payment. The bill also introduced revisions to the Highway Traffic Act to include tow trucks in the commercial vehicle operator’s registration system. Martow, speaking in the Legislature, addressed why Bill 30 was needed to follow up on Bill 15. “Unfortunately, missing from this new legislation was a concrete plan to address highway incident management,” she said. “Mr. Speaker, will the (transportation) minister movie forward with the missing puzzle piece of their own Bill 15 by bringing Bill 30 forward for discussion in this House?”

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