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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
opinions?

Dec. 27, 2004, 7:03AM

Stranded on freeway?

Tow truck's coming with help you can't refuse
Motorists won't be allowed to call for own tow, change their own tires

Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

Starting New Year's Day, if your car breaks down on a Houston freeway, expect a tow truck to show up promptly to whisk you out of the way whether you want the service or not.


Houston's new towing ordinance takes effect Saturday. It is a major piece of Mayor Bill White's traffic-management plan that declares all freeways to be tow-away zones. The city has signed contracts with wrecker companies to patrol 29 freeway sections and immediately remove any stalled or wrecked cars, expanding a pilot project that's been in place on the Katy Freeway since March.

White contends the policy will reduce traffic congestion created by stalls and crashes as well as reduce the potential for secondary wrecks.

"Studies have shown that our freeways are much safer if we can get stalled and wrecked vehicles towed out of the way faster," White said last week at a news conference about the program. "We think this will be a model for the country."

Workers are installing 72 signs at the city limits and other locations warning: "Disabled Vehicles Will Be Towed — It's the Law."


Traffic management
Councilman Michael Berry, the chairman of the transportation committee, who helped White push the ordinance through in May, said motorists will notice an improvement in commute times.

"The public told us they did not want to be stranded on a freeway that became a parking lot because one car ran out of gas or blew a tire," Berry said. "What a difference this is going to make in the day-to-day lives of our residents."

Other city officials also are pledging the towing program will ease traffic congestion. Under current rules, a stalled vehicle may not be towed until a police officer arrives on the scene and requests a wrecker. Because dealing with broken-down vehicles had not been a police priority, cars often sat for hours before being moved.

"You will see a tremendous difference in the flow of traffic starting in January," said Joe Breshears, director of the Mayor's Office of Mobility.

Motorists no longer will be allowed to change a flat tire on the freeway shoulder, walk to the nearest gas station to obtain additional fuel or call their own help. The 11 companies that have the new city towing contracts are required to respond to all disabled vehicles within six minutes and promptly get them off the highway once authorized by a police officer at Houston TranStar, the region's traffic-control center.

Drivers will be able to say where their cars should be taken, within 30 miles. They'll be charged $75 for the first five miles and $1.50 per mile thereafter.

"We are going to attempt to move those vehicles immediately, even if it's just off the freeway to a safe location," said Ken Ulmer, president of A-1 Towing, which holds the towing contracts for parts of the Katy Freeway. "For that towing fee of $75, we would change the tire for the consumer."

Tow trucks participating in the freeway towing program, dubbed "Safe Clear," will be required to accept credit cards and checks. Typically wreckers only accept cash and impound vehicles if motorists don't have it.

Motorists still face temporary seizure of their vehicle if they lack any form of payment. They will have to pick up their cars from storage lots, paying a storage fee in addition to the standard towing rate. Or a car can be sent to a mechanic, who will add the towing charge to the invoice for repairs needed.

Berry said the Katy Freeway pilot project, which has towed an average of 140 cars per month outside Loop 610, has been a success.

"These individuals who were stranded on the freeway have said they didn't know how they were going to get their cars moved out of the way," he said. "Most were thankful we were there."


Training drivers
Some motorists, however, have been irate when told about the mandatory tow. Participating wrecker drivers are being trained in how to handle conflicts, and to request that a police officer respond to deal with any unruly person.

David Saperstein, the mayor's mobility chairman, said public safety and traffic flow overrules the interests of individual drivers who are stranded.

"They need to know to check their gas before they get on the freeway and make sure their car is freeway-ready," Saperstein said. "If they have a problem, they are not going to be able to call a friend and wait to get it fixed. They are going to be towed."

Members of auto clubs offering roadside assistance will no longer be allowed to wait for that service to show up. They will be towed by the city contractor, which has exclusive towing rights in its zone, and can seek reimbursement later.

Anne O'Ryan, public and government affairs manager for AAA Texas, said her association will reimburse its members for any police-ordered tow including one under the Safe Clear program. AAA is talking with the city and its contract wreckers about setting up direct billing so the member won't have to foot the bill on the scene, she said, but that issue won't be resolved by Saturday.

Jeanette Rash, owner of Fast Tow, which will patrol some Inner Loop freeway zones, said she hopes drivers understand and appreciate the program.

"It's imperative for the public to know that we are just trying to put them in a safe place," Rash said. "We are doing this at the minimal cost we possibly can."

The $75 base tow fee is a reduction from the Houston Police Department's current $115 authorized charge.

That charge will remain for vehicles towed at the direction of police officers off the freeway network, where any city-licensed wrecker stays eligible for the work.

Rash said she expects to encounter some hostile motorists but knows the program is important.

"People do get hit and killed on the side of the road while changing a tire or working on their car," she said. "What is the cost of a tow versus a life?"
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
right, ,from what i've read, they can't tow you if your in the car......so i see a sit-in as a protest to this law.....

i don't have a prob. w/ removing cars from the main lanes, but on the emergency lanes......:shake
 

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Oh, but Ed... they CAN and WILL tow you if you are in your car... they will have the police officer remove you from said car. ;)

I think it's wonderful :clap

Maintain your car, maybe it won't break down... and you won't have to get towed... brilliant concept, huh?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
flat tire........$75, 6-8min response time......i maybe able to change a tire in that time frame.......but if i can't $75 pop.

or what if you have AAA, w/ road service, they're on their way.

i think the idea is good, just the execution needs to be tweaked.
 

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azoomm said:
Oh, but Ed... they CAN and WILL tow you if you are in your car... they will have the police officer remove you from said car. ;)

I think it's wonderful :clap

Maintain your car, maybe it won't break down... and you won't have to get towed... brilliant concept, huh?
Getting a flat tire usually has little to do with Maintaining your car. If I'm out changing a flat I would be pretty pissed if a tow truck showed up trying to tow my car.
 

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That's fucking ridiculous.

And how the hell does blowing a tire having anything with maintaining you car. I've blown tires before cuz I picked something up on the road or for no other apparent reason. It wasn't from tire pressure since I check that everytime I get fuel.

Fine get the cars out of the mainline, but the shoulder...give me a break. I can't believe that actually made it into law. :shake
 

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If i get a flat in my truck i can change it in a matter of minutes - maybe 5 or 10 tops. Tow this :twofinger

l think they should use some judgment. What if you dont have 75 bucks (plus 1.50/mile :rolleyes) on you at the time?

THis is bad I think :down
 

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Yeah, I was all fine and dandy with it until I saw 75 bux for 5 DAMN MILES!!!!! I think you Texans just got royally shafted. That's a joke and reads "money maker" all over it, just like traffic tickets. :rolleyes
 

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OK, then think of this... you can't tow a vehicle with the tire off the vehicle ;)

Ed, you obviously drive in Houston traffic... how many of those vehicles you see on the side of the road are flat tires that are being changed? It doesn't sound like they are overly concerned with the flat tire cases... they are the ones that break down and STAY causing a backup... and the backups are incredible.

Besides, this got me to thinking... you seem to be all over this news once it is final and put into place ~ then bash the hell out of it and whine and cry. How about focusing your energy to watching the bills before they become law... and do something about it?
 

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Ok, so wait.
They will tow you even if you have another means of getting your car off the road? LOL

If thats the case, thats the most retarded thing I've heard!!

AAA will come to my rescue if need be, I dont need some Billy Bob towing my shit if I dont NEED him.

Oh wait, I'm in Oklahoma.. I feel better now. :D
 

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Welcome to Houston...last year they gave out tickets for about 6 months fining people who had decorative license plate frames on front or back license plates...even if they were installed by the dealership to advertise where the car was purchased. Now they are on a kick of ticketing people for "invalid" window tint verification stickers...claiming there are "new stickers from the DPS." :shake
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
azoomm said:
OK, then think of this... you can't tow a vehicle with the tire off the vehicle ;)

Ed, you obviously drive in Houston traffic... how many of those vehicles you see on the side of the road are flat tires that are being changed? It doesn't sound like they are overly concerned with the flat tire cases... they are the ones that break down and STAY causing a backup... and the backups are incredible.

Besides, this got me to thinking... you seem to be all over this news once it is final and put into place ~ then bash the hell out of it and whine and cry. How about focusing your energy to watching the bills before they become law... and do something about it?
i'm not worried about this, other then the flat tire incident.....

like i said, it think it's a good idea, just bad execution, like the k-mart raids and other things......
 

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RACER X said:
Rash said. "We are doing this at the minimal cost we possibly can."
..."after all the campaign contributions, kickbacks, and bribes we had to shell out. Man, some city councilmen are gonna have one helluva merry Christmas this year, i'll tell you whut."

azoomm said:
Besides, this got me to thinking... you seem to be all over this news once it is final and put into place ~ then bash the hell out of it and whine and cry. How about focusing your energy to watching the bills before they become law... and do something about it?
Man, i only wish i had time to keep track of everything the local, state, and federal governments are trying to get away with, not to mention trying to round up support to get it stopped ahead of time against whatever intere$ts are pushing it. :shake It'd be a full-time damn job.


...dave
:redcreep
 

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unless a cop comes to forceably remove me from my car, they aint touching it
 

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I would really like to see a tow truck try to force a guy to be towed when he is half way through changing the tire. I mean he already has the tire iron out, what do you think is going to happen.
 

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Let's see here, anyone ever heard of an honest towing service? Nope, here where I live they just recently had a towing service going around to private parking lots towing customers cars because someone complained. The owner sure didn't. Caused a big stir and no one could do anything about it except sue the ass holes. When I was in a wreck on my bike they towed it to an impound. The jack ass their charge me for 2 days when it had not even been in there for 24 hours. Had I not had a broken wrist and elbow I would have been kicking his ass for that. Towing is just another form of legal extortion.
 
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