Getting into a fender bender on a busy expressway is a harrowing experience. You’re faced with a damaged or disabled car as traffic whizzes past you at high speeds. It puts you in a very stressful and vulnerable situation. What do you you do first and who do you call?
Your first thought is, you just want to get off the expressway as quickly as you can and bring your stress level down. This is where you can become an easy target for unscrupulous people.
Tow trucks position themselves along many of Ontario’s busiest highways. Their job is to help keep the roadways clear of breakdowns or accidents to keep the traffic flowing. Tow truck operators listen in on police frequencies and wait for their potential payday. Most towing companies are very reputable, however there are some companies that will take advantage of a situation.
We’ve read of incidents of cars being towed longer distances than necessary to “friendly” repair shops. Vehicle owners were charged exorbitantly high towing, storage and padded repair costs; all of which have to be paid in order to get the vehicle released back to them.
Unrealistic towing costs
Tow trucks arriving on an accident scene can charge several fees. Fees such as tow truck arrival, an inspection, the hook-up, drop charge, storage fees and mileage charges. A vehicle owner was shocked after being presented with a $3,000 tow charge bill (read about it here). Don’t be scammed. Reports say that fraud adds an estimated $700 to the insurance cost of every driver in the Greater Toronto Area.
PTAO and CAA protect consumers
To help protect consumers, the Provincial Towing Association of Ontario and the CAA developed a glove box reference guide. Keep the guide on hand in the event your vehicle needs towing. The Towing Bill of Rights lists eight drivers’ rights, which are based on existing laws. They include;
- You have the right to decide who can tow your vehicle and to what location unless otherwise directed by police.
- A permission to tow form must be signed before towing starts, unless you have an auto club membership.
- The towing company must provide you with an itemized invoice before receiving payment.
- The final bill cannot be more than 10% above the quoted price.
- If you choose, you can pay by credit card.
- During business hours, you can access your vehicle to get your personal items, while it’s stored at a towing facility.
- A tow operator must notify you where your vehicle will be towed.
- Tow operators must disclose if they are receiving a financial incentive for towing your vehicle to a particular vehicle storage facility or repair shop.
Know your rights
For your convenience we’ve provided a downloadable Towing Bill of Rights for you here. Print it off and carry it in your vehicle. If you have an incident with your vehicle and need to be towed, refer to the guide.
Don’t be intimidated. Know your rights before you authorize a tow. Collect yourself and discuss the best options available to you with the tow truck operator. Don’t make an already bad situation worse.
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