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Ontario towing industry to be subjected to CVOR

TORONTO, Ont. – The Ontario government intends to change the way tow truck drivers and the towing industry are regulated.



TORONTO, Ont. – The Ontario government intends to change the way tow truck drivers and the towing industry are regulated.

Under the banners of consumer protection and auto insurance rate reduction, the government wants to introduce legislation that would include tow trucks under the Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) system for the first time in the industry’s history.

The legislation would also require some changes to the ways the drivers and companies and storage operators interact with customers. While their prices and fees won’t be regulated, they would be required to:

  • Have permission from a consumer or someone acting on behalf of the consumer before charging for towing and storage services
  • Publicly post prices and other information, like the operator’s name and contact information
  • Accept credit card payments from consumers
  • Provide an itemized invoice listing the services provided and the total cost. 

Doug Nelson, executive director of both the Provincial Towing Association, and the Ontario Recovery Group sees both good and bad in the government’s plans. While he is in favour of the province taking responsibility for regulating the industry, he strongly disagrees with the towing industry being subjected to CVOR rules.

“We’ve been working on this since 2008, and we believe regulation of the towing industry belongs to the province not the municipalities. Municipal licensing has been an expensive endeavour for those involved in towing in areas where there is municipal regulation, and sometimes caused some consumer abuse issues. We are very happy the government has finally taken the step to regulate the industry on a provincial basis rather than a municipal one.”

Nelson said the associations intend to let the government know they disagree with its stance on CVOR.

“We do not agree with that. We will contest that thought vigorously. The towing industry should not be under CVOR. It has not been under CVOR for many good reasons,” he told Truck News.

In making the announcement, the government cited a high accident incidents rate as one of the reason it is implementing the new regulations. According to its latest figures, in 2010, Ontario tow truck operators had a 19.7% collision rate, compared to only 1.1% for drivers of other commercial vehicles.

“We understand the accident record regarding tow trucks is a direct result of a lack of a proper incident management system in the GTA. The police continuously use a first-on-scene system. The tow operators listen to the radios, and they scan the airwaves. As soon as that call is put out, they race to the scene of the accident. That’s when they get themselves in trouble. There is a lot of work that has to go into this. Certainly incident management has to be one of the aspects of this to get it straightened around properly,” said Nelson, adding that, “incident management falls on the shoulders of the Ministry of Transportation. That’s where it belongs. The Ministry of Transportation are the people that own the highways.”

When asked how he would like to see incident management improved, Nelson mentioned Calgary and Florida. He said both jurisdictions have tow truck drivers patrolling set areas of the roadways (in Calgary it’s during rush hour, in Florida it’s around the clock on the major highways). When a motorist is in need of help, the driver responds and provides assistance (fills an empty gas tank, changes a flat tire, etc.). If the car needs to be moved, they tow it to a staging area, where the motorist can then make arrangement to have it towed to a repair shop. In Florida, Nelson said the federal government pays for the Road Ranger program, and in Calgary, the cost is also covered by government funding.

CVOR would mean daily vehicle inspections and drivers being limited by hours-of-service (HoS) limits. Nelson said those limits would be harmful to the industry.

“Certainly this winter has been a classic example, where the towing industry has been working very hard to satisfy the consumers who need help. It would be very detrimental, especially in rural Ontario, where an operator runs out of hours, and he can’t go out and service a customer that has broke down or in the snow ditch,” he explained.

“But hours of service would also have a detrimental effect on the larger tow truck companies in the GTA because most of the drivers in the bigger companies in the GTA use their trucks for work during the day, then they take them home with them, and if they run out of hours, they’re not going to be able to put in as many hours, because some of them could be going from central Toronto or downtown Toronto out to Whitby where they live. It becomes an issue.

“Certainly there is going to have to be a lot more discussion around CVOR. I think there are other ways to attack it. There are other ways to address those issues.”

At this point, the government’s plans are still in their infancy, and Nelson wants the industry to have a hand in their development.

“The regulations and the standards have not been drawn up yet. Obviously we would want to be involved in the drafting of the regulations and the standards. We are anxiously waiting for the next steps, which would be to develop the standards and the regulations.”


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8 Comments » for Ontario towing industry to be subjected to CVOR
  1. Herry says:

    The next time a tow truck operator attempts to rip me off, I WILL break his neck ! GUARANTEED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Robert says:

    If tow truck drivers are to be regulated by hours of service regulation then they should fall under the same category as volunteer firefighters. During an emergency, volunteer firefighters whose normal job is truck driving are not required to log their hours of operating emergency vehicles as if they were driving a normal commercial vehicle. If a tow truck is required for an emergency, such as to clear a highway following an accident, then it should be the same procedure as any other emergency operation such as fire or ambulance.

  3. Nisgit says:

    In reading the reasons why it is felt why Tow Truck operators should be exempt from the CVOR rules, it is apparent that the operators have not read the rules in their entirety. It would serve you better to read any exemptions such as emergency services or allowances such as personal use, before you make broad statements on how it would not fit your industry.

    Frankly, you are a for hire commercial operation. As a consumer I would like to be confident in the understanding that your truck is in better condition than the vehicle you are towing.

    As for the accident rate, it’s calculated at 40% of the event total permissible in your threshold. This will weed out the bad operators. Just imagine how much more business there will be when the fly by night operators that have no real exposure to increase their threshold. They will be subject to the same bad operator process as a transport carrier.

    This is a world of choice. I think there should be more transparency. Make sure your insurance levels are sufficient in the event of an accident, what is truly impacting your performance record. I then can become an informed consumer. Am I going to use an operator with a poor record or one that has managed their drivers, vehicles and business efficiently?

    The Ontario CVOR process can learn a thing or two from the US CSA model. Good for Ontario for finally making progress to protecting the public road users.

  4. Martin Cowie CDS says:

    I have been assisting Tow Truck companies for three years now. Many of them want to follow the HOS and Trip Inspections, although some companies are NOT following the Hours of Service and Trip Inspection I find a lot of them are hauling TDG without training for the driver or dispatcher. I could go on however the companies that want to be compliant and cover themselves with Due Diligence will seek out a Consultant or ask for assistance. The others can be pushed out once the CVOR regulations are brought down on them.
    Martin

  5. Mark Richardson says:

    I am 100% behind the MTO to require tow trucks to have a CVOR and be regulated under the Hrs of Service. It has been a great example of the MTO regulations being (little bit pregnant)flat deck tow trucks are required to have a CVOR and logbook when delivering say parts engines but if you tow a disabled vehilce nothing? Why does Mr. Nelson think that a large wrecker that is a heavy vehilce tow something where under current regulations can drive as long as he likes and does not have to inspect his truck? Time to join the rest of the trucking industry. Long over do. How many times have we seen a tow truck rush up the sholder, pass on the right on a sholder or speed to an accident scene. This type of attitude has to stop and the industry has done a very poor job of monitoring it’s own.

    Safety Consultant

  6. justin says:

    SAY HELLO TO THE BAD GUY i am a tow truck driver been doing it for 20 yrs love it till last 5 yrs if you guys wanna clean up the towing industry get rid of the low life tow truck drivers there the guys that go buy a pu half ton to one ton single wheel to dually without a wrecker to those of u that dont know what a wrecker is its the rear of the truck the towing equiptment they go buy a rattler for 1000 put it on there pu for 500 and bango there a tow truck driver they steal scam lie and take our tow calls i charge 60 plus 2 dollars per k they charge 30 dollars because they dont pay com ins put ads on kijji top dollar for scrap putting us legal tow truck drivers on the side of the road ive had regualar customers call me asking me how much will i give them for a scrap car i say 300 then they call the scamers and they say 350 because they dont have to pay 4000 dollars for insurance plus maint plus yearly saftey and get pulled over by MTO I SAY EVERY TOW TRUCK SHOULD HAVE A STICKER STATING ITS A TOW TRCUK WITH TOW TRUCK INS PUT THOSE LITTLE GUYS OUT OF WORK

  7. Mark fitzPatrick says:

    I agree that tow trucks should be regulated by the provincial government and not by municipalities as they charge very large licenceing fees and that only covers that municipality.when municipalities regulate they usually have conflicting regulations with other municipalities. Now you need a licence for every municipality is this fair. Yes they should inspect the truck daily the same as commercial drivers O that’s right they have a commercial drivers licence or the tow truck is a registered commercial vehicle registered over 4500 kgs or has a work type box on the back so this makes them commercial trucks.
    Last of all their needs to be regulation in pricing now pay attention consumers your going to love this example, several weeks ago I broke down on the 401 at the Dixie on romp 5ton truck pulling a trailer I called my tow company to get me know problem be there in 40 minutes or so 30 min later along comes a tow truck from Toronto and parks in front of me, I thanked him for stopping and told him I had a truck on the way. He went back to his truck and not 2 minutes later an OPP car show up. The officer was very nice but td me because I was blocking a lane (does not matter lane ramp shoulder) this is where first to the scene call goes out to have that vehicle moved now this is the part I really liked THEY CAN CHARGE WHAT THEY WANT you must pay in cash or they take your car to their storage compound at approx 200.00 per day on top of the tow charge O and the tow charge could be 1800.00 to tow the CAR 1-2 kilometres rate 600.00/ hour x 3-hour minimum. There is nothing YOU or the Police can do. If the tow truck that stopped for me had towed the truck I could have been billed I figure 2000.00-3000.00 dollars. This is where they need regulation, because when the call goes out for first to the scene even if the tow truck driver tells you so over the top price, you can’t refuse the service because the police need and want the vehicle off the road for safety reasons.

  8. Gord Karpf says:

    It’s about time! A tow truck is a CMV…..those operating should be held to the samee standard as abyone else operating a CMV. In addition, the way these guys price their services needs to be looked at. Many have one rate if you call them, and another when they do the vulture on the side of the highway tow after an accident….then their rates go way up….my guess is that they get some sort of “compensation” from the body shop that they take a car to, which ends up getting baked into the repair bill that the insurance company pays…..this equals higher rates. Also, many of these guys speed through town on the way to an accident that they have caught over a police scanner…..the result is a speeding tow truck, running over curbs, through yellow/red lights……

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