It may be a tough industry to be in in the best of times, but unscrupulous operators make the tow truck business even harder for trustworthy operators like CAA. In many cities across the country, it is not uncommon for predatory operators to show up at collision scene completely uninvited, specifically to take advantage of drivers who may be in shock after an accident. They do this by hooking up their vehicles and towing them to a garage, before slapping them with a bill that can be as high as $1000 for the service.
In fact, the number of fines issued by Ottawa police to tow truck drivers for chasing collisions is now at an all-time high: more than 160 tickets were given out to tow trucks for offering services at the scene of a collision in 2015 – almost four times the amount from the previous year of 39 fines.
What’s behind the uptick? It could be the fact that drivers from elsewhere in the province of Ontario are flocking to the nation’s capital, where the $175 fine serves as little more than a slap on the wrist for devious tow truck operators. Other cities are now fining tow truck drivers substantially more, take Hamilton, for example, where drivers who show up unsolicited to the scene of an accident face $5,000 in fines for a first-time offence. That climbs exponentially to $25,000 for the second offence and then $100,000 for the third offence.
In the absence of tougher fines, motorists are advised by CAA North & East Ontario to know their rights in order to avoid being taking advantage of by certain tow truck drivers.
In Ottawa, it’s illegal for tow trucks to solicit services or park within 100 metres of a collision. It is also illegal for a tow truck driver to approach a motorist at a crash without first having been called by either police or the motorist.
Drivers involved in a car accident should never accept tow truck services from companies they did not call. CAA Members are advised to take advantage of the Roadside Assistance that comes with their Membership: no matter where you are, our fleet of tow trucks will make sure that your car is towed to the destination of your choice – and it doesn’t even have to be your car, since Membership belongs to the Member and not a specific vehicle.
For whatever reason, if CAA service is not available, Members can pay for alternate arrangements and be reimbursed by CAA after submitting to us an original itemized business invoice that bears the Member’s name, within 30 days from the date of service. Reimbursement is based on the prevailing commercial rates for the area where the vehicle was disabled.
Know your driver rights, take advantage of your CAA Membership – and never fall for tow truck tricks again!