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Need a Tow? This Info You’ll Want to Know

TORONTO, ON — You’re driving slowly on a snow-packed road in Northern Ontario. It’s snowing out and the wind’s blowing the white stuff in all directions. Visibility isn’t great and it’s not the most glorious day for trucking, but you tough it out because people need the propane you’re haulin’ to keep warm.

Cosmic karma should land a truck hero golden medal in your lap, but today’s not your day – clearly. So instead, your truck breaks down and you find yourself stranded, cold and hungry and in need of a tow.

Be it as it may, your regular towing service is on its way, but lo and behold, before they can arrive, another tow truck shows up behind you and the police officer on scene says you better take it.

“If you wait too long, especially if you are a blocking a lane or a busy street, law enforcement might be “nice” and choose who will tow you. This is not recommended as you will have little say over price once you're on the back of someone else’s hook,” warns Michael King, a service advisor with a Freightliner and Western Star dealer in Ontario.

You can’t refuse, it’s simply not an option, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could?

Well, as it happens, things are looking like that may soon be within your grasp.

There’s some room for improvement in the towing industry in Ontario. There’s a patchwork of regulation in the province, made up of 444 municipalities, most of which do not have towing regulations. (Even the handful that do, are not harmonized).

“There are some truckers that are being victimized with high pricing, especially in the greater Toronto region. If a truck breaks down, my advice to them is to get a quote in writing on where the vehicle will be towed to and how much it’s going to cost because there are definitely some bad apples working in the GTA,” Doug Nelson, the executive director of the Provincial Towing Association of Ontario (PTAO), told

So recently, the Faster Clearance Working Group (FCWG) got together and identified where policies dealing with accident clearance on provincial roads could be improved.

FCWG is a towing committee part of the Ontario Trucking Association, made up of representatives from trucking, police, government and towing, who look at dishonest activities that might go on during and after a collision cleanup for commercial vehicles.

Here are their recommendations: 

• Transparent rate structures for all heavy towing and equipment storage companies that are used by police services for accident clearance;

• Minimum qualifications for towing companies that are used by police services for accident clearance, which should be a joint effort between the heavy towing industry, the trucking industry, police services and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO). (OTA does not foresee this involving a licence or a regulation, rather a matter of policy);

• Protocols that allow carriers to refuse the towing services ordered by police if a carrier has an established service provider who can respond in a reasonable amount of time;

• Look at the ways that other North American cities use to remove disabled cars from major roads;

• MTO exploring options to ensure legitimate tow operators who are providing services are paid similarly to other emergency service providers.

The Faster Clearance Working Group is comprised of representatives of the trucking industry, police, government, and towing interests tasked to bring about improvements in highway clearance to reduce the amount of congestion on Ontario roads and highways. 

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