Tow truck driver shortage could cause worse traffic
BATON ROUGE – It’s an almost daily occurrence—a vehicle needing to be towed off the Mississippi River Bridge, causing extensive traffic delays.
A wreck Wednesday morning took nearly two hours to get cleared, a problem tow companies say is becoming worse.
“It makes our process slower on getting customers served,” Suzy Simoneaux of Louisiana Towing said.
Louisiana Towing in Port Allen didn’t handle that particular wreck, but Simoneaux says the problem is pervasive on the West Side.
“Wreckers, you know, it’s just not any driver. You do have to be trained in either the light-duty wrecker or the heavy-duty wrecker and those drivers are far in between right now.”
In the COVID economy, finding qualified tow truck drivers is hard. Simoneaux is down to just six. She usually has ten.
And the number of towing companies on the west side has been cut in half as well, from four to two.
“Our dynamic is two bridges, and once you get on the bridge, there’s no shoulder on either bridge, so we can’t get them off the bridge, and again it does cause us some heartache,” Lt. Ken Albarez with the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said.
Albarez frequently responds to wrecks on the bridges. He says they rely on independent companies when DOTD can’t cut it.
“We try to work with the local companies as best we can, and we try to keep in mind that it’s just not their fault a lot of times because they’re stretched pretty thin.”
Albarez says one thing that can help during this shortage is moving your stalled or wrecked vehicle out of traffic if you can—something that’s not an option on the bridges.