By Andy Sheehan

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They’re called chasers — local tow truck drivers who race each other to the scenes of accidents to get the tow.

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When they get there, it can sometime turn violent, like in early February, when police say one tow truck driver shot another who was wielding a baseball bat at the scene of a crash on Washington Boulevard.

“What we’ve had historically is a wild, wild west. It’s been a free-for-all where when there are accidents on city streets, whoever gets there first and gets their business card in front of a crash victim was winning multi-hundreds of dollars of towing fees,” Dan Gilman, Mayor Bill Peduto’s chief of staff, said.

The administration wants to put the brakes on the chasers once and all. Instead of having tow trucks racing in the street, the city would establish a half dozen districts and have a designated towing company for each one.

“This isn’t trying to create a monopoly. It’s not trying to cut anyone out of business. We could have as many as six tow truck operator companies still doing business with the city,” Gilman said.

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Over the years, KDKA has done several stories on folks having their cars towed and not being able to locate them, only to be charged days later with exorbitant towing and storage fees in the thousands of dollars.

Gilman says new city rules would address that too, limiting fees but allowing the companies to make a living without deceptive or dangerous practices.

“We want to support our local businesses. We want to support entrepreneurs, but it needs to be done safely,” he said.

This is a request to the towing companies to bid on one of six towing contracts. Each winner would be assigned a zone in the city that would be theirs alone; no other company could tow cars from accident scenes within that zone.

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The city believes that this would do away with the chasing once and for all.