GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Tow companies found themselves overwhelmed with calls for help following Wednesday’s near-blizzard conditions.
According to Andrew Heykoop, director of operations at Eagle Towing, the number of reported slide-offs and crashes picked up throughout the day and peaked during the evening commute.
In total, Heykoop estimated the company’s tow drivers responded to more than 120 calls. On a regular, non-weather day, that number sits around 60.
“Comstock 131 was a high-impact area,” said Heykoop. “Around Coopersville through Marne and then the 96 and 131 corridor we’ve seen quite a bit of the impact, and that goes along with the high-traffic areas.”
Heykoop said icy roads and low visibility seemed to factor into most of Wednesday’s incidents.
It was this winter’s first major test for companies like Eagle Towing, which was dealing with a shortage of workers.
Heykoop said while the industry has seemed to avoid a lack of workers, many drivers are out with COVID-19, which has impacted response times.
On average, Eagle Towing tries to get to a scene within 20–30 minutes of the first call, but on Wednesday, it took between 45 minutes to an hour.
“Right now we have six teammates that are out with COVID,” said Heykoop. “We’ve shut down multiple locations as a result of it. Our road service has slowed down a little bit, but it hasn’t been drastically affected.”
The Michigan Department of Transportation has a website that tracks plow drivers in real time.
To visit, click here.