If you are in a collision or your vehicle breaks down, be aware that tow trucks operating legally in Ottawa must be licensed. Licensed tows have a yellow license plate with a purple sticker that reads ‘Ottawa 2024’ or the year until which the license is valid. While accepting an unsolicited tow that shows up quickly may seem convenient, you are exposing yourself to potential overcharging and criminal acts.=
If your vehicle needs to be towed, always confirm the driver’s name and the towing company name and phone number before they take your vehicle. Licensed trucks will have the operator’s name displayed on them. Don’t be shy to ask for their City of Ottawa license and the pricing (you can take a photo with your phone).
Here are some other tips:
- Do not accept services from a tow truck you did not call for.
- It is illegal to solicit tow services on the roadway, which means a tow truck operator cannot approach you to offer their service without you first calling that company.
- Tow truck drivers are prohibited from parking, stopping, or soliciting within 100 metres of a collision, unless they are there at your request or that of a police officer, a by-law enforcement officer, or a highway maintenance person.
Carry a list of licensed tow truck operators with your insurance and other vehicle documentation. The City maintains a list of licensed operators – there are many to chose from. These companies are properly insured, their tow trucks are safe, and the drivers are certified. Your insurance company can also provide a list of their preferred towing companies, or you can call the City at 3-1-1 anytime to confirm that a company is licensed.
You can also familiarize yourself with:
- prescribed fees for various towing services and vehicle storage
- new towing industry regulations that came into effect in January 2022, along with consumer protection tips
The Ottawa Police Service also has information on what to do when you’re in a collision.
Don’t be intimidated or mislead by illegal tow operators -- #KnowYourTow to protect yourself and your vehicle.