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Ontario proposes tough regulations on tow truck industry

Watch video above: Ontario proposes law regulating towing, storage of automobiles. Sean O’Shea reports. 

TORONTO – The Ontario Liberals plan to introduce legislation to help protect consumers from getting swindled when their vehicle is towed or being held in a storage facility.

The new regulation will require tow truck operators and storage providers to have permission from a consumer or someone acting on their behalf before charging for services.

The legislation would also have prices publicly posted with information of the operators name and contact information.

Under the new rules, credit card payments will now have to be accepted and consumers will be given an itemized invoice listing of all the services provided and the total cost.

“We are strengthening consumer protection for drivers involved in traffic collisions or in need of roadside assistance,” said Minister of Consumer Services Tracy MacCharles in a media release.

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“Drivers should have the confidence that the tow truck operator helping them is reputable and will treat them fairly.”

Drivers who disobey the new rules will be fined, MacCharles said.

The province is also proposing to include tow trucks in the province’s existing Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration system to improve road safety through government monitoring and enforcement measures.

Minister MacCharles says the changes and oversight would contribute to lower costs in Ontario’s auto insurance system.

“Regulation of the towing industry will not only enable additional consumer protection measures but will also enhance safety on Ontario’s roads,” said Elliott Silverstein, Manager of Government Relations, CAA South Central Ontario.

There are approximately 1,200 tow truck operators and 3,000 tow truck drivers in Ontario.

In 2010, tow truck operators in Ontario had a 19.7 per cent collision rate, compared to only 1.1 per cent for drivers of other commercial vehicles.

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