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Old 01-01-2012, 10:58 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 271
Explain to me the circumstances around seemingly abandoned cars on the highway...

I have always been curious about the cars on the side of the road with red stickers affixed to the side view mirrors. My assumption is that one of the following has happened:

1. Vehicle breaks down. Has no value, driver can't afford a tow and can't afford any repairs.
2. Vehicle breaks down. It is being driven illegally (stolen, or revoked/ no license or joy ride), driver flees so won't get caught
3. Vehicle breaks down/runs out of gas. Driver is drunk so can't wait for police or tow truck. Abandons car and will deal with it later.

So, are most cars left on the shoulder reclaimed or not? Can a cop or tow guy/gal weigh in?

Have you ever left your car on the roadside...why?

What do the red stickers say?
Old 01-01-2012, 11:17 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Orlando, Florida
Posts: 2,352
I believe most cars that you find abandoned on the side of the road are there because the owners lack the funds to get them towed and repaired. How often have you seen a late model Porsche, Jag or Mercedes left stranded for weeks on the side of the road? It is almost always 10 to 20 year old cars that have seen better days. It is quite sad to realize that the person who owns this car doesn't have the means to fix it so must resort to leaving it to the elements.

What is even sadder is the fact that while they might be able to save for a while and get the funds to fix their transportation is that by the time they do they will now owe towing and impound fees imposed by the local authorities. And of course, the towing fee instead of being a reasonable $50 or $75 will be $250 or $300 and the daily impound fee will most likely be $25 per day ($125 a week). And a cycle begins that the poor person will never get out of.
Old 01-02-2012, 12:49 AM
VOW VOW is offline
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: NE AZ
Posts: 2,390
It's illegal to abandon a vehicle in the public right of way of Interstate freeways. In California, there are tow companies on a rotating roster who are called to handle this. I don't know what the time frame is, how many shifts the car has to be tagged by, but the vehicles are removed.

Old 01-02-2012, 01:21 AM
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 8,596
This is such a broad question, but if a car is sitting there long enough its most likely an abandoned stolen car. There are salvage yards that will pay you even for any car running or not, so I can't imagine why people would not just call and direct them to the location of the car instead of abandoning it.

I used to live in a subdivision that was a kind of a qiuet dead end surrounded by city which had grown around it, it was a popular spot to dump stolen cars. They could sit for weeks and it was a real pain to get anyone in government to take them away.
Old 01-02-2012, 09:08 AM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Northern USA
Posts: 1,943
Last fall, my car sat in a parking lot most of a day from when it died on my wife's way to work until she got off and we towed it home. The fuel pump had died. I got it going for little more than the price of a fuel pump. Further from home and a little less resources, it could have sat. I felt really lucky it waited until Monday. The Saturday before we were out of state, about 600 miles, urban freeway and boondocks. Could have added up, tow, repairs, rental car or hotel, etc.

An older beater might not be worth what it would cost hiring all the work. I imagine laws vary, but can anybody with a tow strap tow a car off the Interstate? If you are lucky, can ''Joe'' help you on his day off given time? As the OP mentioned, we need a LEO or tow truck driver to help.

I am tempted to check with my insurance company on road service less for the expense than to have somebody to call. Maybe the Anti Automobile Association has returned to their motorist friendly ways and should be considered again.
Old 01-02-2012, 12:13 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Iowa
Posts: 589
Here I believe the law is if it hasn't moved for 24 hours the police can tag it. 48 hours after tagging they will come and tow it. The laws for on property vs. on public street are different but if enough complaints come through a "junker" sitting in a private yard can be removed.
Old 01-02-2012, 05:15 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Posts: 19,294
They can tag "abandoned" vehicles a lot sooner than 24 hours, at least in AZ. When I was in high school I used to sneak out of my house and drive to my boyfriend's house. I'd park my car on the corner (vacant lot) across the street from his house and hang with him for a few hours, then leave and drive back home and sneak back in before anyone woke up. I once went back to my car (parked no more than 3 hours) to find one of those stickers stuck to it by the cops. So some of those cars you see might just be off getting gas and a ride and not actually "abandoned" at all.

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