November 14, 2018 by Greg Meckbach
Tow truck drivers should not be allowed to hook up and haul vehicles damaged in collisions without some sort of certification above and beyond a driver’s licence, says CAA South Central Ontario.
“If you have a Class G driver’s licence, you could go to a tow truck company tomorrow, get some on the job training, and basically have a truck to drive and you could be towing a vehicle,” said Teresa Di Felice, CAA SCO’s assistant vice president of government and community relations, in an interview. “There really should be some provincial certification requirement to operate a tow truck in Ontario and that would come along with licensing and training requirements.”
A Class G licence may not be enough for heavier towing equipment hauling trucks instead of cars, but driver’s licence classes are based on the weight of a vehicle and there is no special driver’s license required to operate a tow truck specifically, Di Felice said.
The Ministry of Transportation reports that a G-licensed driver may drive any vehicle, or combination of vehicle and towed vehicle up to 11,000 kilograms, provided the towed vehicle is not over 4,600 kilograms.
Towing often comes up when the auto insurance industry discusses claims costs.
“Cars have become more expensive. It becomes important to understand how not to damage a car any further than it already is when you are picking it up,” from a collision scene, said Di Felice.
Until 2015, Ontario tow truck operators did not need a commercial vehicle operator’s registration. It was Bill 15, the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, which changed the Highway Traffic Act to make CVORs mandatory for tow truck operators. That omnibus bill (which neither reduced auto insurance rates nor enacted any new fraud laws) also changed the Consumer Protection Act such that tow and storage providers must now publish their rates, accept credit card payments and provide itemized invoices before receiving payment.
Scores of occupations in Ontario do require some form of licensing and certification. Among them are insurance brokers, automotive service technicians, plumbers, electricians, nurses and teachers. Not among them are tow truck operators.
“In Ontario there is no formal requirement for training for towing,” Di Felice said, adding CAA SCO and many other towing operators have their own on-the-job training.
Bill 39, tabled last month by a backbench MPP, proposes to setup the Accessible Parking and Towing Industry Review Committee.
That committee – if formed – would look at the issue of provincial towing licencing, says CAA SCO, which is encouraging all members of provincial parliament to vote in favour of Bill 39. CAA SCO is part of CAA Club Group, which also operates CAA Insurance.
Each Ontario municipality has its own rules on tow truck licensing, Gila Martow, Progressive Conservative MPP for Thornhill, told the legislature when she tabled Bill 39, which was referred to committee Oct. 25.
“We have 16 municipalities in Ontario that have some form of tow truck bylaw or licensing, mostly in the greater Toronto area,” Di Felice said in an interview. “In some of these municipalities, if a collision occurs, the tow operator needs to be licensed in order to hook that vehicle up and tow it -whether it’s to a repair shop or collision reporting centre.”
It is conceivable that a tow operator could have to pay thousands of dollars a year to be licensed in all the different municipalities in which he or she operates, Di Felice said. Say a tow truck operator is operating near the intersection of Yonge St. and Steeles Ave. That operator needs a Toronto licence to hook up a vehicle south of the intersection, a Vaughan licence northwest of the intersection and a Markham licence northeast of the intersection.
It can be “very cumbersome” if there are different fees in different municipalities and different requirements in different municipalities, Di Felice said, adding CAA is calling for a “provincial outlook on licensing.”