Driver slapped with $350 in fees for I-40 breakdown

October 1, 2012 3:34:20 PM PDT
A man whose car broke down on Interstate 40 in Durham County learned an expensive lesson about towing. Michael Carr wants his story to be a warning to others.

Carr left his vehicle along the shoulder and walked to get help. When he came back, his SUV was gone.

"I thought it was stolen," said Carr. "The exit I was supposed to get off on, that's where it broke down at.

He left his car on the shoulder on I-40 about a half a mile before the N.C. Highway 54 exit.

"I put my emergency lights on and my shirt in the door to let them know I will be back to my vehicle," Carr said.

However, when Carr came back to where he left his vehicle, it was gone.

"I called Highway Patrol, police, and the sheriff, and no one could find my car in the system.  I just so happened to call a wrecker company and they had my truck," said Carr.

Carr's vehicle was towed because it was left unattended on the shoulder where the BOSS program is in place. BOSS, which is the Bus on Shoulder System, started in July and allows transit buses to drive on the shoulder during congestion to keep their schedules. There are signs along the 20 mile stretch that say shoulder, authorized buses only, and no parking tow away zone, but Carr thought since he left his emergency lights on, letting them known he'd be back, he had time.

"I didn't feel like I was parking because my car broke down," he said.

Instead, Carr now had a tow bill of $175 plus $55 since they did not have a key to tow it. Plus it took him some time to get the money, so he had to pay a storage fee per day. By the time he got his SUV back, he owed $350 to the tow company.

"Regardless of how much money you make, $350 is very expensive to come out of your pocket," said Carr.

He now knows, due to the BOSS program, that rapid towing is in effect. Carr now has this advice for others.

"Not to leave your car on I-40," he said. "If your car breaks down, stay with it; try to get AAA to tow it."

Typically, you do have 24 hours to remove your car once it's tagged. However, if the authorities see a need to have it towed sooner, for example, your car being left in the shoulder of the BOSS section, it can be towed right away.

If you do break down and have to leave your car to get help, the best advice from authorities is to park it far away off the road and shoulder that you can. If possible, even on the grass section off the shoulder.

Again, in the 20 miles stretch of the BOSS section, rapid towing is in place to keep the shoulder clear for buses.

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