Tow-trucks warned

TOW-truck companies are not emergency vehicles and if they break any traffic laws they face being arrested or fined.

This warning was given by traffic officials to tow-truck companies during a high-level bilateral meeting held last week Tuesday to adress the rampant speeding and recklessness of tow-truck and ambulance drivers on Nelson Mandela Bay roads.

Thomas Cameron, Chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Bay Emergency Services Coordinating Committee, said the meeting with the South African Towing and Recovery Association (SATRA), state emergency services and private ambulance services was necessitated after numerous complaints from the public and a recent collision in Buffelsfontein Road.

During that accident a private ambulance and towing vehicle collided on the way to an accident scene.

“Our Traffic Services reminded the tow-truck companies that they are not emergency vehicles and warned them not to break any traffic laws or face being arrested or fined.

“Towing services admitted that their conduct on the road is not exemplary but said due to competition with other tow-truck companies they are forced to try to get to an accident scene first.

“On the other hand, private ambulance services were warned that although they can break some traffic laws, it must be done without endangering the lives of other road users,” Cameron said.

Member of the Mayoral Committee responsible for Safety and Security, Councillor John Best, said he had requested the meeting between all role-players as the continued recklessness on our roads is a serious problem and cannot be condoned.

“We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our community comes first. I also would like to encourage members of the public to refrain from notifying towing services first when reporting a motor vehicle accident, especially in cases where people are injured. Rather contact the Provincial Emergency Medical Services at 10177, the South African Police Services at 10111 or our Fire and Emergency Services at 041 585 1555,” MMC Best said.

Most of the vehicle towing services in Nelson Mandela Bay are members of the South African Towing and Recovery Association (SATRA) and subscribe to its Code of Conduct which discourages unethical behaviour by its members.

“SATRA gave an undertaking that they will instruct their tow-truck drivers to abide by traffic laws.

“It was also agreed that the Provincial Emergency Medical Services would meet regularly with private ambulance services to coordinate emergency medical response and discuss legal and ethical requirements,” Cameron added. A follow-up meeting between state emergency services and towing services will also be scheduled.

When asked by PE Express on what is currently being done to force tow-truck drivers to abide by traffic laws, Best said they were already arresting and fining perpetrators, but there is a need to issue hefty fines to stop the persistent problem. “Fines are issued but it seems more needs to be done because this problem continues,” said Best.

Best said tow-truck drivers breaking the law is a criminal matter and members of the public should report this to the police as they do with all criminal matters.