Ottawa Police – need a tow know your rights when in a collision

(A fender bender. Photo: Ottawa Police Service)

No one wants to be in a collision, but they do occur. In Ottawa, an average of 40 collisions happen every 24 hours – and that’s on good weather days. That number can triple when driving conditions are poor.  

The Ottawa Police Service (OPS), in partnership with Ottawa Fire Services, Ottawa Paramedic Service, Ottawa By-law Services and Safer Roads Ottawa is holding a public safety education, awareness and enforcement campaign around collisions

If you are involved in a collision with more than $2000 damage or injuries, you must report it to police. For minor collisions, use the non-emergency number to get instructions. If medical attention is needed, call 911.

Depending on the circumstances, you may need to call your insurance company before you leave the scene. OPS encourages all drivers to know in advance what will be covered by their policy when it comes to getting a tow, vehicle repairs or a rental if needed. The fees for these services vary, so to avoid unexpected costs, check with your insurance company before getting any of these services. If you do need a tow, know your rights

  • Don’t accept unsolicited tows. Although illegal, some tow companies attend collision scenes without being called to get business. That’s like someone showing up at your home offering you a service you haven’t requested. You want to know what company you are dealing with. If your insurance company has a preferred tow list, use one of them.
  • Know which tow company you have called. There have been situations where a driver called for a tow and when a tow operator arrives, they assume this is the company they called. If this isn’t the case and you allow them to hook up to your vehicle, you will be responsible for some fees even if you don’t end up going with them.
  • Get a detailed written estimate before accepting a tow. This will help you avoid unexpected fees that may not be covered by your insurance.
  • You have the right to say where your vehicle is towed. Get this in writing too. Otherwise, you could be charged fees not covered by your insurance. 

It is illegal for tow trucks to be within 100 metres of a collision scene unless called by an involved party. It’s not uncommon for five or six tow trucks to attend a collision scene. Their presence can interfere with emergency services efforts and creates more distraction and blockages on streets for other road users, increasing the risk to public safety. Failure to comply could result in fines under the City of Ottawa By-laws or the Highway Traffic Act. 

For more information about what to do if you are involved in a collision, go to:


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