Thursday, February 28, 2013
Kanas roadsides are finally starting to clear up as tow trucks get cars that were stranded in this week's snow pulled away.
The president of a Wichita wrecker service says this week has been the busiest she has seen in decades, but none of those calls have been to impound abandoned cars.
"I've been here 36 years and I've only seen it that busy one other time and it was an ice storm then," said Diane Richardson, president of Arrow Wrecker Service, Inc.
Richardson and her drivers have put in a lot of hours this week.
"Last night we finally got a full night of sleep, so we feel much better today," she said. "And the tempers were better today and the stress levels were down."
She said the company's call volume was so heavy this week that there was a 10-hour wait at one point Tuesday. However, she said, the company has not impounded any cars on behalf of law enforcement agencies.
"The owners of the cars are still calling us," Richardson said. "The law enforcement agencies have been very good to let people let them sit just a little bit longer this time until they can get funds to get them moved."
The Kansas Highway Patrol gives motorists 48 hours to have their cars moved once they have been tagged by a trooper, so many abandoned cars were just approaching that deadline late Thursday. However, Lt. Roger Baughman said some cars are not given that long.
"If that vehicle gets struck by another vehicle, we're going to tow it immediately," he said.
The Kansas Department of Transportation may also ask that a car be removed if it is hindering snow removal. Baughman said it is not the Highway Patrol's goal to impound cars, but troopers have to ensure that abandoned vehicles are not serving as a distraction.
"They've got enough distractions as it is now," Baughman said. "People with their cell phones and radios and eating and all that stuff. We don't need to look at stuff on the side of the road."
Baughman and Richardson say it costs about half as much if motorists call a wrecker service on their own rather than waiting for law enforcement to have a car towed away.
"If they call us first without bringing law enforcement agencies with them, it's a lot cheaper, yes," Richardson said.