Arkansas to Develop Rules for EV Towing After Accidents

Law Includes Provisions for Recovery, Storage
Arkansas state capitol in Little Rock
Arkansas' state capitol in Little Rock. The new law authorizes the Arkansas Towing and Recovery Board to establish the electric vehicle rules. (ChrisBoswell/Getty Images)

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Concerned about how to handle electric vehicles after accidents, Arkansas has a new law authorizing the state towing board to develop necessary rules for towing, recovery and storage.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed Act 840 into law April 13 after the successful passage in the state’s 94th General Assembly of House Bill 1765 authorizing the Arkansas Towing and Recovery Board to establish the EV rules.

State Rep. Carlton Wing (R), who sponsored the bill, told lawmakers in a March 30 hearing by the House Public Transportation Committee that the towing board backed the legislation, which he described as “their bill,” due to the increased use of EVs in the state.

“The recovery of electric vehicles when they have been in an accident presents a toxic situation,” Wing said. “And, so we need to be able to develop some rules for the successful and safe towing and storage of these vehicles.”

After the legislation moved from the House into the next chamber, it went to the Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs Committee chaired by state Sen. Mark Johnson (R), who spoke about being familiar with EVs from owning a Tesla car and aware of the “shortfalls” of EVs.

Johnson said Arkansas tow operators and first responders are beginning to receive training on how to deal with fires from electric trucks and cars.

“We don’t want a first responder or tow truck driver electrocuted so this is a good bill,” he noted.

Arkansas state Sen. Jim Petty


State Sen. Jim Petty (R) testified about the need for the state to formulate towing, recovery and storage rules for EVs.

“These vehicles are very safe under normal circumstances but when you have an accident, they become very toxic and when the battery packs are damaged, they must be handled differently than other accidents and so we need to be prepared to address that,” Petty said.

The state has imposed an Oct. 31 deadline for the Arkansas Towing and Recovery Board to complete draft regulations to submit to legislators for approval. The nine-member board, appointed by the governor, serves three-year terms. It is the state regulatory agency for the tow and recovery industry. It consists of four members representing nonconsent tow owners, two consent-only tow owners, one insurance industry representative and two people unaffiliated with the towing industry.

Growing concerns about how to handle lithium-ion batteries, found in EVs, has led to the subject being this year’s national first-responder theme for a June 18-24 Safety Stand Down conference called Lithium-Ion Batteries: Are You Ready?

The conference is a joint initiative by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Volunteer Fire Council in coordination with the National Fire Protection Association and Fire Department Safety Officers Association. It also is supported by national and international fire and emergency service organizations along with health and safety-related organizations and agencies.

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