Tow Trucks in Texas?

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Tow Trucks in Texas?

Postby SQLGeek » Sun May 02, 2010 5:03 pm

Quick question for y'all. How does tow truck service work in Texas? Specifically when it comes to wreckers responding to accidents? Often times I see several wreckers lined up on the side of the highway for two car accidents. I get the impression they are there on a first come, first serve basis. In California, the local LE agency will have a list of tow truck companies they work with and they will call the companies on a rotation when a truck is needed. This is assuming a party in the accident doesn't want to use their own company, which in this case the on scene officer will request a truck with that company.

What prompts me to ask this question is that my wife and I were in North Houston yesterday heading to the Motorsports Park when two wreckers went screaming by us (I'd estimate their speed at around 80), one right after another. They both cut across multiple lanes of traffic, making unsafe lane changes and barely making the off-ramp to the feeder. My guess is they were racing to an accident. I've seen similar driving by wrecker drivers before when it looks like they were racing to an accident. This time was bad though, as we were close to getting hit not once but twice. They were going so fast I couldn't get any identifying information from the trucks.

Now, I'm not trying to bash on wrecker drivers but I am curious as to how things work here as an explanation for why they might've been driving that way.


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Re: Tow Trucks in Texas?

Postby CrimsonSoul » Sun May 02, 2010 5:46 pm

Well besides the beltway where they use a specified tow service I always thought it was a "short Straws" kinda thing where whoever draws the long/short straw gets the tow.
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Re: Tow Trucks in Texas?

Postby boomerang » Sun May 02, 2010 10:53 pm

I would have called 911 to report the unsafe driving. Who knows? Driving like that they might have been drunk or fleeing after robbing a bank.
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Re: Tow Trucks in Texas?

Postby mctowalot » Sun May 02, 2010 11:45 pm

Sorry man, didn't know it was you!
Actually I'm probably the slowest (driving) wrecker driver in Houston - I'm an adult, I've got babys that count on me, and I also don't want to hurt anyone (and I can't stand reckless drivers of any type - cars don't kill, reckless drivers do).

But to answer your question here it is in a nutshell:
Wrecker driver sits and listens to anywhere from 6 to 12 EMS radios.
(I've got HPD Central, South Central, Special Ops (downtown patrol + accident units), HFD, Harris County Constable Pct. 7, and Metro PD.
When one of the above units is dispatched a call that the wrecker driver thinks may result in a tow, (like a wreck or an arrest) the wrecker driver trys to get there first, or at least before the LEO gets there and picks up his or her mic. and says the phrase, "no more wreckers".
Those that made it then "gamble" to see who gets the tow.
We have brass "chips", (round, flat "coins", actually key tags) printed with one's choice of text or #s on one side and "blank" on the other.
One driver takes all the chips, shakes them up in his hands like dice (or just tosses them into the air) and when they hit the ground the odd man out wins (like all are face down except one - the winner).
Or the chips are put in a hat and one is drawn by a bystander.
FWIW these are just Houston's methods, and totally "gentlemens agreement" - the city ordinance states that the first wrecker to arrive gets the tow. Our great city is often referred to as "the last of the wildwest" in the trade magazines.
In regards to the driving habits you mentioned - theres no excuse for it, and people get hurt or killed every year or so, just because some jerk wanted to beat everybody else to a tow.
This crazyness is drying up - new regulations and LEOs are cracking down on this behaviour (and let me tell you its been a long time coming!!!).
In other cities they work off rotation lists but it's been said that with Houston's volume of tows we would have accidents tying up roads for hours everyday - as crazy as our system is it works - but it would work just as well with the crazy wrecker driving part eliminated, IMHO.
Well, thats it for this rant - perhaps later (after some good 'ol fashioned wrecker driver bashing) I can post some of the good stuff - I think part of what keeps a lot of us out here is the chances to help folks out - (like when my wife and I saved a man from a burning house by yanking the burglar bars off with a chain, or winching the near drowning victim up the freeway wall during Tropical Storm Allison) :)

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Re: Tow Trucks in Texas?

Postby chabouk » Mon May 03, 2010 2:58 am

McTowalot, I actually respect your informal agreement to draw lots. It sure beats the LE choosing which service gets to tow (whether by rotating list or otherwise, it's very ripe for abuse and corruption).

There's also the Houston "tow zone" mess, where the first one to hook up a broken-down car (out of gas, flat tire, whatever) gets a shot at easy money from a driver who's already having a bad day.

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Re: Tow Trucks in Texas?

Postby Target1911 » Mon May 03, 2010 3:53 am

In Ft Worth They are on rotation. Some of the smaller cities use a specific wrecker service under contract with them. I am not sure how Dallas does it
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