The Star Malaysia
Regulate tow truck operators
FOR the past one year, I have written to almost 200 members of Parliament regarding the need for a law to regulate tow trucks. Sad to say, only 15 of them responded and said they would look into the matter.
Every day, a huge number of road accident victims become the prey of rogue tow truck operators. These operators are so efficient they would arrive at an accident site within minutes.
Road accident victims have to pay for the towing charges, which are supposed to be only a few hundred ringgit. But they often end up paying a few thousand ringgit once the tow truck operator has hauled the vehicle away. To make matters worse, they would tow the car to a workshop that would impose inflated repair fees and force the owners to pay before they can reclaim their vehicles. This type of fraud or deceptive business practice has been happening for a long time.
I had such an experience when my wife was involved in an accident. I arrived at the scene within minutes, as the mishap occurred near my house, but the tow truck operator was already there. When I refused to use his service as my auto insurance covered tow truck services, the operator told me no one could tow the car in the area without his “permission”. I called the police but the tow trucker operator kept on harassing me even in the presence of the officers.
When the insurance company’s tow truck arrived, the driver was not allowed to tow my car away. My tow truck operator eventually had “to settle” with the other operator before he could remove my car, all this in the presence of the police.
The truck operator sent by my insurance company told me some operators had a “background”. It is not a secret that some are members of gangs and triads. Other operators are not allowed to operate in the territory controlled by them.
Most countries have very rigid and comprehensive laws on tow truck operations. In the United States, it is against the law for tow trucks to show up at accident scenes without being requested by the vehicle owner.
With so many Malaysians already victims of this unscrupulous practice, I say enough is enough! It is time we have tough laws to regulate the tow truck and workshop business.
Make it a criminal offence for tow truck operators to harass and threaten accident victims. Tow trucks should not be allowed without being requested by a vehicle’s owner. And the operators can only tow the vehicle if they are on the panel of service providers registered with the victim’s insurance company.
Our ministers, MPs and various authorities should pay serious attention to this problem before more drivers become victims of these unscrupulous people. A new law is needed to prevent more accident victims from becoming “second-time victim” of these rogue tow truck operators and workshop owners.
H. K. TAN Kuala Lumpur