Tow truck drivers hours behind as they work to clear cars - KCTV5

Tow truck drivers hours behind as they work to clear cars off busy roadways

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OLATHE, KS (KCTV) -

Tow trucks were extremely busy Thursday getting cars out of ditches and medians, and KCTV5's Alan Shope rode along with a tow crew as they helped motorists out.

Every tow company Shope contacted said every truck they have is out on the street. Most are running about 150 calls each, and that's a number that's only growing as the day goes on.

Looking at the backup on Interstate 35 alone showed tow crews working nonstop to pull cars from stranded areas.

The dispatch center hotline's phones have been ringing off the hook since early in the morning.

Police are locating all the stranded cars on busy roadways and contacting the tow trucks to get them off the streets first. They are doing it that way so all the snowplows can get through and clear the streets.

The tow truck drivers with Santa Fe Tow Service said they are working as fast as they can and that usually means they get about two cars an hour towed in their designated area.

"Crazy, that's about all I can say, it's crazy. When the snow came out this morning, I probably had 20 calls. All our trucks are busy. (It's taking) Maybe three hours (for one call) depending how busy they are," said a tow truck driver named Jeff.

Santa Fe Tow has 35 trucks and currently have their drivers on 12-hour shifts and they expect it to take up to two to three days to answer all the calls they've received.

Most tow companies stopped taking new calls halfway through the day Thursday because their list was nearly 130 calls behind. The calls are so far behind that, by the time the tow truck arrives, the driver had usually already abandoned their vehicle, and the tow truck driver can't take the vehicle unless the owners authorize it.

"We've had all of our lines going all morning. I would say we've got at least 150 calls out. I think most of the people kind of understand it right now with the weather and leave their vehicle, then pick it up later and take it to their house," said another tow truck driver who didn't give her name.

Towers want to remind other drivers that they should be aware of those working around them on the roads and to move over and slow down when they see someone towing cars.

"We've got families. I've got kids at home. A lot of the other drivers have kids and we all want to get home safe," Ryan Lee said.

While it is hard, some drivers said there is gratification to the job.

"Oh I'm like the knight in shining armor, they say. I like what I do and I'm glad I can help people," Lee said. "This is really pretty bad. The ice storms were bad, but this is definitely one of the worst we've had in a long, long time."

If a person's car was stranded on a busy street, chances are the police had it towed to a lot, at the owner's expense. People can call police over the next couple of days and find out where their car was towed.

Overland Park police said in a release sent out shortly after 5 p.m. they will begin towing vehicles left unattended on major roadways and in intersections. While they said the number of abandoned vehicles on city streets is unknown, many are hampering plowing efforts and impeding safe movement of traffic.

There are reports of vehicles left on Metcalf, Antioch, College, Quivira and in intersections. By moving the vehicles, the city said they will be able to effectively plow the streets and provide access for other motorists.

If your car has been towed from Overland Park, call the police non-emergency number at 913-895-6300.

Snowplows have begun to work on residential streets in the city limits, but it's just an initial pass. Plows will make the streets passable, then return to thoroughfares and collectors, plowing from curb to curb before coming back to complete neighborhood streets.

Residents are reminded to move their cars off the street. Streets with vehicles parked on each side of the roadway may even prevent a plow from clearing a street due to the decreased width a plow needs to safely maneuver without damaging the parked vehicles.

Also, as with any snowstorm but especially when there is a significant snowfall, the plows will create windrows in front of driveways. They are unavoidable. The city does not come back to clear private driveways.

Plowing operations in Overland Park are expected to be completed on Saturday.

Parents are reminded to prevent kids from building a snow fort or igloo on a street or curb. While the snowplow drivers are as careful as can be, sometimes a fort or igloo can be difficult to distinguish from a pile of snow.

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