Overdrive Magazine

January 2020

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22 | Overdrive | January 2020 A practice that first arose more than half a centu- ry ago as a way for big- city administrators to punish parking-ticket scofflaws has come to truck parking. Truckers increasingly have reported the use of wheel boots, windshield barnacles and in some cases tow trucks to enforce parking prohibitions on pri- vate property. Fees for removing the boot or, in some cases, dropping the tow hook for a discount on the cash penalty have ranged from a couple hundred dollars to more than 10 times that amount. Outcries against the prac- tice, particularly when the truck is occupied by a sleeping driver, are also on the rise. State and municipal regulations exist all around the nation pertain- ing to booting and towing compa- nies' practices, including required signage and fees. When it comes to booting of occupied vehicles without notice, there's little on the books anywhere, says Canton, Michigan- based small fleet owner Leander Richmond. He's researched the issue in areas where drivers of his 12 trucks have run into problems – namely Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky – and else- where. The reason for the lack of regula- tory attention on this crucial point? Richmond believes because immo- bilizing an occupied car rarely hap- pens, there's been no groundswell of opposition outside of trucking. Given the strict hours of service adherence under the electronic log- ging device mandate, finding ade- quate parking and using it for rest has become a more pressing priority. Consequently, as Richmond and many others know, a truck found in an improper site might well have a sleeping driver in it. Regulation being developed in the state where the "Denver boot" was first built and used in the middle part of the last century, Colorado, could show a path forward for other states. The most important provi- sion among those regulations is one that expressly "prohibits booting or immobilizing an occupied vehicle," with exceptions allowed for inter- vention of a law enforcement officer, says Mike Matousek, manager of government affairs for the Owner- Operator Independent Drivers Association. OOIDA has been getting clari- fication from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission about the proposed rules. A booting represen- tative will be forced to "come up to the vehicle and knock on the door" before holding the vehicle hostage, Matousek says. "That includes a commercial vehicle." Rule No. 6817 in the proposal puts a statewide cap on the boot removal fee at $120, and a $25 maximum charge for situations where the vehi- cle's operator returns to the vehicle before the boot is installed. Those figures are well below four-figure fees that Matousek and Richmond have seen in invoices from compa- nies operating overnight at Kentucky Walmarts or in otherwise unused commercial lots in North Carolina, where one of Richmond's drivers has run into problems. There can be a legitimate role for booting vehicles, says Matousek, "but when you're booting an occu- pied motor vehicle, it raises ques- tions when the fee is $2,000 or $3,000. There's no justification for that amount." The Colorado Legislature regu- lated booting companies following attention brought to the practice by a citizen's suit attempting to argue booting companies should be subject to existing state regula- PARKING PARKING PARKING PARKING

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