The Western Australia Government is reforming the state’s tow truck industry to reduce traffic accidents, improve safety and combat 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.

WA Commerce Minister, Roger Cook, said, “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.”

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
  • 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.

Transport Minister, Rita Saffioti, said, “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 be given to the Department of Transport to propose options for how to implement this reform. Reform options will be presented to the State Government for consideration by mid-2022.

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