Tow truck operators issued warnings for law they say doesn’t apply to them

Tow truck operators issued warnings for law they say doesn't apply to them

WATCH: Commercial vehicle safety enforcement officers have been issuing warnings to Vancouver Island tow truck drivers for violating a hitch offset rule.

Damon Dunn has been a tow truck operator for 17 years but he’s now worried about the future of his business, Dunn Right Towing and Recovery, because of a written warning he received from a commercial vehicle safety enforcement officer last week saying one of his trucks is illegal.

“They’re saying the distance from the rear axle to the pivot point on our wheel lifts exceeds 1.8 metres,” he said. “But every tow truck in the world is built that way.”

It means in a common setup where a vehicle is placed on the deck of a flatbed truck combined with another vehicle being towed by the flatbed is illegal. This is because the distance from the rear axle to the pivot point on the wheel lift between the front tires of the vehicle being towed is more than 1.8 metres.

However, 1.8 metres does not go beyond the bumper on most flatbed tow trucks.

Dunn says now he can only put one vehicle on the deck of the flatbed and it will cost customers more.

“We do a lot of towing for ICBC that comes from Courtenay down to Nanaimo Salvage which we have to cross the scales to get there and if we can do two at a time it saves us money and saves taxpayers money at the end of the day,” said Dunn.

The rule applies to any tow truck over 6000 GVW (gross vehicle weight) where the rear wheel lift extends beyond 1.8 metres while towing a vehicle.

At Comox Valley Towing and Recovery they’ve also received a warning and say under the rules being enforced right now they’d have to take half of their fleet of trucks off the road.

“The hitch offset regulation has always been there,” said Operations Manager Tyson Doucette. “Now I think the point is what is the definition of a ‘hitch’ and is a ‘wheel lift’ considered a hitch, which nobody can give me the answers to.”

Tow operators across BC are wondering why CVSE officers are cracking down all of a sudden on a law that has always been in the books but was never enforced before and could never have been written with tow trucks in mind.

“It’s designed for things like the guys with campers who put the extension bar on and tow a trailer,” said Dunn. “It’s designed for straight trucks like the U-Haul trucks. For us, it’s built from the factory this way and attached to the frame underneath.”

In a written statement, the Ministry of Transportation says: “Having real-world information is important to ensure we have the ability to make good decisions and that current rules are valid. If changes are needed, this will help determine what is in the best interest of safety for the public and the industry. The applicability of a wheel lift when properly manufactured, installed and used on a correctly licensed vehicle is currently being reviewed.”

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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