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Pittsburgh officials eye new towing rules in wake of shooting

Megan Guza
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Pittsburgh officials hope to keep towing companies from competing with each other to reach crash sites by designating one towing for each of the city’s six police zones.

The announcement comes less than a week after a dispute between two tow truck drivers escalated to violence, with one driver going after the second with a baseball bat and the second responding by pulling a gun and shooting.

City officials said that the new proposal has been in the works for months and comes after a study by public safety officials, the Office of Management and Budget and Mayor Bill Peduto’s office.

Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said tow truck drivers competing to reach crash scenes creates myriad problems.

“First, they are competing to get to the scene and therefore often speed and break traffic laws to get there first,” he said. “Second, as many as six tow trucks can show up for a single-vehicle crash, which adds to traffic congestion.”

He said he’s seen tow drivers get into arguments, meaning police on scene have to focus their efforts on breaking up fights instead of directing traffic or tending to victims.

“It’s not safe,” he said. “From a public safety perspective, the time has come for action.”

The proposal would set towing rates; require the companies to allow access to the tow pounds every day; and require the pounds to be within two miles of the city border, according to city officials.

Drivers could call a different towing company if they so choose.

The city is seeking proposals from interested companies, which have until March 8 to respond.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.