Tow Truck Drivers: New Hempstead Town Rule Causes Driver Confusion, Lost Money

LAWRENCE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Tow truck drivers in Hempstead are fed up with a new town policy that they said is costing them money.

As CBS2’s Emily Smith reported, the new tow truck policy is leaving drivers confused and searching for their cars. And tow truck owners said they are losing business.

Tom Morash needed a tow following a serious crash involving one of his hotel vans. But once Nassau County police blocked the public roadway, they wouldn’t allow his usual choice of tow truck company into the scene — telling him he had to take whoever was next on their list.

It is part of a policy change in the Town of Hempstead.

“The police told me it’s in rotation; it’s locked in — nothing they could do about it,” Morash said.

The crash happened on Rockaway Turnpike and totaled the vehicle. The Five Towns Inn that Morash owns is right there, K&G Garage where Morash wanted to take the car is right across the street.

Instead, Marash waited 45 minutes, he said for S&R Towing in Elmont. S&R is four and a half miles away, in a high-traffic area.

According to the Hempstead town policy, the driver can still choose where the vehicle is taken. But Morash said in the heat of the incident, the company did not listen to him – taking it to their garage.

Afterward, he said he spent a day and a half trying to find out where his vehicle was with little help from police.

“I had to find out who it was because they didn’t really know,” Morash said. “And by the time I found out the fees, they wanted $500. And it could have cost $185 to $200 dollars.

That company said it had no comment.

Jimmy Walsh with K&G repairs in Lawrence said the policy unfairly prevents companies like his from getting business. There is still the same fee of $175 set by the town plus $5 per mile.

But Walsh said his business has all but stopped.

“We used to get six, seven, eight tows a week that now, we’re turning into getting one a month,” Walsh said.

Town of Hempstead spokesman Mike Deery said under the new policy, “Drivers are protected from being ‘steered’ to a particular tow car operator,” and, “The policy has helped curtail the dangerous practice of ‘trolling’ by some unscrupulous tow operators who formerly ‘raced’ to accident scenes to recruit business.”

Under the new policy, a driver has to choose the next tow company on the list. Town leaders said the list is divided into zones purposely preventing an accident victim from calling someone far away.

“It’s hurting business profusely, because you cannot get your customers to have the right to call you, and that’s what hurts,” Walsh said.

CBS2 is told a public hearing has been held on the issue. A representative of Nassau County police had no comment other than to say it is a Town of Hempstead policy that must be followed.

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