Houston Considers Having Motorists Fund Towing Program

Mar 25th, 2011 | By | Category: National News

The Houston City Council will soon consider a plan to change the city’s SAFEClear program from a free service to a program funded by motorists. In the SAFEClear program, participating towing companies are dispatched by the city to highway breakdowns and tow the vehicle free of charge to safe areas off the freeway. The six-year-old service was created to reduce traffic congestion, eliminate multiple towing companies responding to accidents, and ensure citizens are treated fairly by tow truck drivers, the city’s website states.

The city can not afford to pay for the program, a Councilwoman said. According to a news report, as the city faces a $130 million budget gap for the year beginning July 1, officials are looking for ways to raise revenue. Having motorists take on the cost of towing will save the city approximately $3.3 million per year, the report said.

The city currently pays towing companies $50 per vehicle towed from the freeway. The new plan calls for motorists to pay the $50 when their vehicle is towed. The vehicles of motorists who are unable to pay the fee and have no insurance will be towed to a city impound yard and the motorist will have 48 hours to pay the fee before incurring storage charges.

An effort to arrange direct billing to insurance companies so motorists do not have to pay the towing companies is underway by Jeanette Rash of the SAFEClear Management Group, a consortium of towing companies that patrol the freeways and are dispatched by the city. Efforts are also being made to create funds to cover the fees of indigent motorists unable to pay the fee.