Thornhill, Ontario -- August 22, 2017 -- CAA and the Provincial Towing Association of Ontario (PTAO) are reminding motorists to make space for tow trucks providing service on the shoulder of the highway and to avoid “rubbernecking” when passing a highway incident.
"Tow truck drivers, along with police and emergency service providers, are responding to unplanned incidents and collisions on our highways every day," said Cindy Hillaby, Vice President, Automotive Services and GCR, CAA South Central Ontario. "We are reminding drivers to do their part to help those working on our roadways clear the road faster and more safely by slowing down, moving over and avoiding the temptation to stare at roadway incidents, also known as rubbernecking."
The reminder comes ahead of the two-year anniversary of changes to the province's Slow Down, Move Over (SDMO) law, and coincides with the launch of Tow Safety Week. Across North America, nearly 100 tow truck drivers are killed every year after being struck by oncoming traffic while helping stranded motorists with flat tires, breakdowns and collisions.
"It is important for drivers to remember that Ontario's roads and highways are the workplaces for those helping to clear the road," said Joey Gagne, President, Provincial Towing Association (Ontario). "Everyone deserves a safe place to work, and by following the law by slowing down and moving over, drivers can make a big difference in the safety and speed of that work."
CAA SCO and PTAO are this year building on the achievements of including tow truck drivers in SDMO legislation, by launching a petition focused on further protecting motorists and tow companies providing service.
The petition calls for support of the Ontario Transportation Systems Improvement Advisory Committee Act (Bill 136), which, if passed, would allow for further analysis of how incidents are managed on highways. Those interested in supporting this initiative can sign the petition, which will be made available in all CAA tow trucks and member service vehicles.
Last year, the Ontario Provincial Police laid a total of 2,031 charges under Ontario's Slow Down Move Over law. The law includes a fine of $490 and three demerit points.
For those in need of towing services, whether involved in a collision or experiencing a mechanical breakdown, motorists should be aware of their rights before authorizing a tow.
Through the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, enhancements to Ontario's Consumer Protection Act now require tow and storage service providers to:
- Have permission from the consumer or someone acting on their behalf before towing or storing a vehicle
- Disclose rates and other information, such as the provider's name and telephone number, on tow trucks and in places of business
- Accept credit card payments from consumers
- Notify consumers where their vehicle will be towed
- Allow consumers to access their towed vehicle to remove personal property on business days from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at no charge
- Provide consumers with an itemized invoice listing the services provided and costs before receiving payment
- Disclose if they are receiving a financial incentive for towing a vehicle to a particular vehicle storage facility or repair shop