Towing services in the city are being given a month to get used to a new bylaw that will penalize them for being too aggressvive at the scene of traffic accidents in the city.
The Cornwall Police Services Board passed a bylaw Wednesday that calls for stiff penalties against tow operators that come within 200 metres of an accident without first getting permission from a police officer at the scene.
In an interview Cornwall Community Police Service chief Dan Parkinson said "overzealous" tow operators have become a hindrance at the scene of accidents as they jockey for position - and business.
"It's been going on for a while," said Parkinson, adding often times those involved in the accident are dealing with the shock of the collision and don't wish to be bothered by a tow-truck drivers who are competing for business. "We started to hear more and more concerns and complaints."
Fines for first time violators will be $1,000, while second offenders will have to pony up $2,000, and a third offence will cost a towing company $5,000.
Parkison said this month will be used to warn tow operators of the new rules, but fines will start to be issued Nov. 1.
He said officers are being provided with laminated cards that list the tow-operators in the area. Those cards will be shown to vehicle owners, who can then decide who they want to tow their vehicle.
Duncan Cooper of Cornwall Towing said the new bylaw should be welcomed by people in his industry.
"It will definitely discourage guys from rushing to an accident scene," he said, adding he has no use for "accident chasers.
"Some guys break land-speed records trying to get to an accident."
Cooper said his only concern is that the bylaw won't be enforced all the time. As a member of a provincial towing association he has heard of other communities where police don't enforce the rules at every accident.
"I'm for this. I just hope they use it," he said.