Pennsylvania bill would revise large truck towing rule

February 16, 2021

Keith Goble


A renewed effort in the Pennsylvania General Assembly would change a rule that applies to towing tractor-trailers.

Pennsylvania law requires tow truck operators to haul disabled tractor-trailers to the nearest place of repairs or place of safety.

Sen. Robert Tomlinson, R-Bucks, is the sponsor of a bill to revise requirements in an effort to enhance road safety for tow truck operators and other motorists.

Tomlinson introduced the same bill during the previous two-year regular session. The bill, however, did not advance from committee.

Second time a charm?

In hope that his pursuit will gain support, Tomlinson has communicated to fellow state lawmakers the change is necessary because the terms are “so vague, there is little consistency as to where the tow truck operator will be ordered to go.”

“If they are directed to the nearest place of safety, the broken-down tractor-trailer remains on or by the road for a longer period of time jeopardizing the safety of the motorists as well as the tow truck operator.”

In these instances, Tomlinson wrote that tow truck operators often must stand along busy roadways coupling and uncoupling the tractor and trailer in order to get it to the intended place of repair.

“In most cases, there is no need to add this extra step.”

He notes that tow trucks now are equipped to handle larger loads and should be able to do so in a safe and efficient manner.

Tomlinson assured legislators in a memo that his bill would follow the intent of the law while clarifying the provisions with parameters for how tow trucks can operate. Specifically, towing affected vehicles would be limited to within 75 miles of the point of disability.

Towing length restrictions for affected tows would also be limited to 150 feet.

For instances when the tow truck operator is unable to meet the requirements set in the bill, they would be required to report the incident. An emergency plan would then be implemented to remove the disabled vehicle within 24 hours of the initial report.

He adds that the changes would make the Keystone State more consistent with neighboring states.

The bill, SB214, is in the Senate Transportation Committee. LL

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