Legislation to rein in tow-truck rogues

Victoria is tightening up its vehicle towing law by giving VicRoads more power over tow-truck operator licences

By Rob McKay | June 13, 2013

Victoria is tightening up its vehicle towing law by giving VicRoads more power over tow-truck operator licences.

New legislation, now introduced into Parliament and covering allocation and operator registration, comes in the wake of allegations of bikie strong-arm tactics being used in the sector, particularly relating to heavy vehicles.

"By confirming that towing companies are restricted to specific areas of operation, we can crack down on stand-over tactics and conflicts stemming from multiple tow trucks arriving at crash scenes and causing major disruptions to the travelling public," Roads Minister Terry Mulder says.

"This will reward the vast majority of operators who play by the rules, ensuring a fair and enforceable system.

"Motorists involved in a collision will no longer be subjected to the tough guy tactic of a few rogue operators who have been giving the industry a bad name."

The Road Legislation Amendment (Use and Disclosure of Information and Other Matters) Bill amends the Road Safety Act and the Accident Towing Services Act.

In the latter, a new section, 25(1A), "confirms that VicRoads may, for example, impose a condition on a regular tow truck licence that prohibits the licence holder from attending a road accident scene within the controlled area and towing an accident damaged heavy vehicle from that area", the law’s explanatory memorandum states.

Tow operators will be unable to retain or withhold any personal item or thing left in or on the vehicle and it prohibits a person who is in control of a place to which an accident damaged motor vehicle has been towed from failing to release the vehicle, though there are defences related to money owed.

The Bill will also allow VicRoads to approve tow truck driver accreditation to drivers from New South Wales and South Australia for towing close to the Victorian border.

It makes provisions to improve the regulation of the use and disclosure of personal information held by VicRoads as part of their licensing and registration requirements.

"This simply further secures personal information that warrants a high degree of protection due to its potential for criminal use, such as for identity fraud purposes," Mulder says.

Meanwhile, a new subsection, 16D(1), is aimed at ensuring VicRoads maintains a register of written-off vehicles.

"Section 16D(1) currently requires all written-off vehicles to be included on the register," the explanatory memorandum states.

"However, not all of these vehicles carry the same risk in terms of vehicle re-birthing and re-registration of damaged vehicles.

"The amendment will allow VicRoads to prescribe the vehicles that must be included on the written-off vehicles register."

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