Iron County towing companies steering

“Iron County Steering Committee” by cartoonist Clay Jones

An original cartoon for The Independent based on Craig Bennett’s article from Sunday, Oct. 4, “Iron County wrecker companies allege wrongdoing.

From the article:

Local towing companies, including Cedar City-based All Ways Towing and Mountain Towing, are concerned with what they call “steering.” They allege they are losing business and money to other tow companies and car dealerships in the area because of inappropriate practices of favoritism by law enforcement and the dispatch center. The alleged problem has been occurring over the last 10 years or longer.

With the population growth in southern Utah leading to an increased number of vehicle collisions and disabled vehicles, the problem, according to the whistleblowers, appears to be getting bigger.

According to Utah laws, wrecker and recovery services are supposed to operate under  a rotation system. Wrecker companies are designated to operate and respond in specific areas. If there is more than one service company in an area, they are put on a list and rotated to each accident or incident in turn. If a wrecker company is already on a service call or doesn’t have the equipment necessary, the next company is selected off of the rotation list. The owner or driver of a vehicle involved in the accident or incident, however, can request the towing company of their choice.

The term “steering” is when a tow truck company is called that has not been requested by the vehicle owner and is not next on the rotation list. The tow is “steered” by the law enforcement officer in charge of the incident to either a favored towing company or a local auto dealership who provides towing service in the area.

“Steering has been going on all over the State of Utah and it’s wrong,” said Steve Russell, president of the Utah Towing Industry. “Some officers in the area have become friends with towing operators and sometimes they do them a favor and steer the business to a certain wrecking company. This is not right.”

According to Russell, a meeting attended by Utah Congressman Johnny Anderson, who sits on the state transportation committee, and Major Michael Rapich, assistant superintendent of the Utah Highway Patrol, addressed the problem of steering.

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