Ottawa police stage fake collisions to charge competing towers

Ottawa, Ontario — March 18, 2015 — Ottawa police are staging crashes to crack down on citywide “tow truck wars,” where unauthorized towers race to be first on the scene.

In a Metro News report, Sgt. John Kiss says that the problem has become unmanageable, with a rising number of tow operators in violation of the city’s bylaw — which prohibits tow trucks from parking or offering their services within 100 metres of a collision — thus prompting the force’s new ticketing tactic.

Sharkey’s Towing and Road Service operator, Edwin Weber, told Metro that although he doesn’t count himself among the collision chasers, usually only arriving when called, accidents can serve as an unregulated “free for all” for local towers.

Weber joined five out of seven tow truck drivers fined on March 10 after arriving on the scene of a two-car crash near West Hunt Club and Highway 416. He says two of the responding drivers were assigned to jobs, adding that it’s at the discretion of the officer when it comes to who is chosen and who walks away with a fine — Weber, finding himself in the second camp, owes $175. He plans to fight the ticket in court on the grounds that he happened upon the accident by chance.

“Often my work is downright dangerous,” says Weber, who puts in 12-hour days. “It’s hard-earned money and for the cops to just go ahead and take it from me for no good reason is not right.”

He says the implementation of a proper dispatching service would work to regulate calls and decrease illegal collision chasing.

Kiss adds that the city’s three collision reporting centres aren’t helping the issue, allowing drivers to report minor crashes instead of waiting for the authorities to do so, attracting towers to scenes where they often aren’t needed.

To date, 19 tow truck drivers have been ticketed this year in comparison to 2014’s total of 27.

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