Our view: A rocky roadside friendship, restored

DKS Editors

Few industries are as widely despised and adversarial to college students as towing. It turns out that the general public of Ohio agrees.

The state has found that some rogue companies have turned a helpful service in a nemesis for law-abiding citizens. Lawmakers, fed up with the hundreds of complaints they received in the past few years, have drafted major regulations to rein in predatory towing practices throughout Ohio.

This would force companies to accept major credit cards, protect against overcharging and place a limit on how far a vehicle may be towed.  

We fully support the measure because it’s an easy fix that will lend credibility to the industry as a whole while also protecting consumers. We don’t believe all towing companies engage in predatory practices — but there are certainly incentives and a lack of oversight. A law in the books would create a written standard that consumers and companies alike can use to defend themselves in case of conflict.

We would venture to guess most students have either been towed or know someone who has. Personal experiences range from sheepishly admitting “you got me” to a brawl in the parking lot. The “Stop, Drop and Pay Half” rule — as exhibited in our front-page story today — is a transaction that’s sketchy, inconsistent and inherently unfair to those who don’t happen to catch the truck before it tows away.

(What if you’re able to jump on the moving truck as it’s pulling away? Do you then pay three-quarters of the full price?)

Ideally, with regulation comes a uniform, positive experience that doesn’t encroach on the business dealings of towing companies and educates the public about its rights. It’s the government’s duty to step in and regulate an industry when the laws are unclear.

After all, towing was not meant to be a nemesis police force prowling the parking lots of Kent apartments. The next time you break down on the side of the road, you might find the same person you spat on the other day is fixing your flat tire.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.