Tow Trucks and Car Accidents in South Africa
Some regard them as a curse and others a blessing. We’ve all had to deal with tow trucks. Like vultures at a kill, they descend on an accident scene, providing a range of services. Some of them are scrupulous, and they offer anything from first aid assistance to directing traffic around the crash scene. Others are unscrupulous. They have even bribed corrupt police officers so they can be the first at an accident scene. Some of them start performing certain duties which a disorientated accident survivor allows, not realising that they will have to pay for the host of services.
Tow Trucks and Car Accidents – Some are in it for Sheer Gain
The South African Towing and Recovery Association as well as the United Towing Association of South Africa confirm that these sort of incidents do happen and that the industry desperately requires some regulation. As things stand, anybody can buy a truck, turn it into a tow truck and start operating.
Arrive Alive will tell you about tow truck companies who refer accident victims to specific
workshops for repairs. Arrive Alive says this isn’t because the workshop does proper repairs but rather because the tow company stands to get the commission on jobs they refer.
The scheming and conniving by operators of tow trucks to benefit financially can sometimes have tragic consequences, with people dying at accident scenes. Yes, motorists involved in accidents need to make the right decisions, but sometimes they are in shock and not in a good state of mind to make the correct decisions. The National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 stipulates that no-one can remove a vehicle involved in an accident. That can only be for the purpose of allowing the flow of traffic.
Tow Trucks and Car Accidents – Dealing with Tow Truck Operators
- Use the services of UTASA or SATRA. SATRA stands for The South African Towing and Recovery Association. These Associations adhere to a code of conduct, protecting consumers from paying more than the market-related rates. If you have car insurance, get hold of your insurer and understand the correct procedure to follow. Keep this information displayed on your car window – usually in the form of a window sticker. If you have insurance, call the emergency towing assistance number printed on the sticker which you can get from your insurance company.
- If you make use of roadside assistance, know your rights. Also, make sure that the damaged vehicle is delivered to a repairer approved by your insurer.
- If you aren’t insured, always establish the amount to be charged beforehand for towing, salvage and storage fees. Certainly find out as much as you can about the tow operator – check for details on the side of their truck – the name of the company and telephone number.
Tow Trucks and Car Accidents – Don’t Let Them Force You to Sign
When you find yourself in an accident on South Africa’s treacherous roads, don’t sign anything until you at least know what you’re getting. If the tow operator becomes demanding, only sign authorisation to tow your vehicle. Remember to remove all valuable from your car.
Whether you’re insured or not, do research on tow truck operators so that you don’t sign your car away forever.
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