FARRELL Police panel approves towing policy

A motorist's complaint about a high towing fee prompted the policy's development.
FARRELL, Pa. -- The Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Commission has instituted a vehicle towing policy designed to regulate businesses that offer public towing services.
Police Chief Riley Smoot Jr. said the department had no policy and that any towing company could get on the department's rotation list to be called by police when towing services are needed in the event of an accident or breakdown.
Smoot said a recent complaint from a motorist involved in an accident about the price he had to pay to a company on the towing list prompted a look at establishing a policy.
The motorist was hit with a $100 fee to have his vehicle towed from the accident scene to a garage, Smoot said.
The department's policy, approved by the commission Tuesday pending a review by its solicitor, is based on the Pennsylvania State Police towing policy, Smoot said.
New rules
To participate, towing businesses must fill out an application form, maintain a secured lot to protect towed vehicles, and enroll in a specific category of service such as light-duty, medium-duty or heavy-duty towing.
The categories are determined by the weight of the vehicle to be towed and the policy requires a specific type or level of equipment in each category. The businesses also must provide 24-hour service, Smoot said, noting that some towing companies that run only 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. now will be eliminated from the rotation list under the policy.
The policy doesn't set prices, however. That is set by each towing company, and prices probably will vary from company to company, he said.
Every company will have to renew its application yearly, Smoot added.
Any motorist can ask for the towing service of his or her choice. The rotation list, in which towing services are called in turn, is used when the motorist doesn't request a specific company.

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