- Strong community support for reforming the tow truck industry to protect vulnerable traffic accident victims
- Reforms include licensing of tow truck operators and criminal checks
- Regulatory strategy to be developed to ensure a fair and safe towing industry in WA
- Reform options to be presented to State Government for consideration by mid-2022
The McGowan Government is reforming the tow truck industry in Western Australia to protect people involved in traffic accidents and combat bad behaviour and price gouging.
Consumer Protection invited more than 6,000 stakeholders to engage in consultation on reforms for the industry, which received 37 formal submissions and more than 400 survey responses from industry participants, consumers, insurers and government agencies.
About 90 per cent of survey respondents agreed the industry should be regulated.
The following suggested reforms have received strong community support:
- tow truck businesses and drivers to be licensed, with criminal background and association checks as part of the application process;
- control access to the road network with powers to suspend and cancel licences for breaches of road laws, safety and fees;
- setting price caps and registering depots being used for storage to manage the issue of excessive towing and storage fees being charged; and
- additional requirements on 'Authority to Tow' forms signed by consumers before a vehicle is towed to increase transparency about what the consumer is authorising.
Responsibility for executing changes has moved to the Department of Transport, who will present reform options to the State Government by the middle of this year.
Depending on reform options, this may include legislative changes.
While this work is ongoing, the Department of Transport is also preparing amendments to the Road Traffic (Vehicles) Regulations 2014 to update technical standards and begin rolling out a communications campaign to advise drivers of their rights.
This will require maximum tow and storage fees to be recorded on the 'tow truck driver's statement', which is given to the person authorising the tow at the roadside.
The consultation report that summarises the feedback can be viewed on the Consumer Protection website.
Comments attributed to Commerce Minister Roger Cook:
"The views expressed as part of the consultation process indicated widespread community concern about the tow truck industry in WA.
"Ethical operators report that they are disadvantaged by the tactics of some unscrupulous drivers who threaten, mislead and harass people to get business.
"The consensus is that this behaviour needs to be stamped out."
Comments attributed to Transport Minister Rita Saffioti:
"Western Australia and Tasmania are the two States with the least regulation of the towing industry.
"Regulation in WA is long overdue and is essential to ensure that consumers are properly protected whilst improving safety and confidence in the industry.
"The community consultation has identified a host of concerns that we want to address through the reform process.
"This work will now be given to the Department of Transport to continue and I look forward to receiving options for how we implement this reform later this year.
"The reform and associated regulation will bring WA in line with most other Australian States and ensure that we have legislation in place that serves the needs of the community whilst supporting an honest towing industry that encourages fair competition."
Commerce Minister's office - 6552 6500
Transport Minister's office - 6552 5500