10 things tow truck drivers want their customers to know

Tow truck drivers have a tough time – not just because of the dangers of assisting others, but because of the lack of widespread knowledge about their trade. Therefore, we took to Reddit to ask the towing community what they want customers to know. We’ve gathered 10 of the most important tips that tow truck drivers want customers to know for their tow to go speedily, safely, and smoothly.

10 things tow truck drivers want customers to know.

1. Slow Down & Move Over

Tow truck drivers are struck and sometimes killed on the side of the road while just trying to do their job. These incidents are mainly because of drivers who fail to move one lane over from a tow truck stopped on a road shoulder or who fail to slow down to a safe speed (preferably below the posted speed limit) when passing responding vehicles. Each state has their own Slow Down, Move Over laws. So, check your state government’s website to familiarize yourself with your state’s specific wording.

It may be irritating to sit in the traffic that is slowing down for these vehicles, but it is the law and it does save lives. Besides, slowing down to a reasonable speed helps you obtain more control over the car, drive more safely, and save money on car insurance.

2. No, you do not need to put the car in neutral

No one seems to know where this myth came from, but no, you do not need to put your car in neutral. In fact, most tow truck drivers would prefer if you didn’t even ask. If your tow truck driver needs to shift the gears of the vehicle or do anything else to tow the car, they will take the proper measures to keep your vehicle clean and in the best condition while they do it.

3. Stand clear of the car

Additionally, stand clear of the car. It’s tempting to want to stay close to your vehicle in a crisis. After all, your car is your pride and joy, or at least something that you’ve depended on. You want to make sure it’s okay.

However, your tow truck operator wants to make sure that you’re okay. Standing in the way of their equipment or even standing too close to the side of the car can be a recipe for disaster – not to mention staying in your driver’s seat while your operator is working. Tow truck drivers have been trained for the job. Trust them to do it well.

4. Try pull over to a safer location than the side of the road.

Sometimes, it can’t be helped. Your car decides to quit in the middle of a highway, and there’s nothing around you but a narrow shoulder. However, if you can help it, pull over somewhere with more space. Think about how concerned you are opening your door to get out of your car on the side of the interstate. Now, imagine someone that has to work on your car for an extended period of time, perhaps with their back turned, on that same side of the road.

Towing is one of the most dangerous jobs out there. Try to make it a bit safer by giving your operator more room to work.

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5. Don’t touch the equipment

You may be curious about the knobs and do-dads in the tow truck. You may just be trying to help by pointing out your car’s tow points. Regardless, do not touch a towing operator’s equipment. Don’t touch the levers. Don’t touch the buttons. Don’t touch the hook. Do not touch anything unless the driver tells you to. They’ve been trained on how to use special controls and how to look for certain points or issues. They have things placed for a reason. One tow truck operator put it best:

My truck is my office. I don’t walk into your office and start messing around with your phone, computer, eating your snacks, drinking your drink etc.…My radio is on that station for a reason, my belongings are in those locations so I can find things I may need while driving without taking my eyes off the road, my heat and/or AC is set to that temp for a reason, etc.

Reddit user u/Shaehan

Again, the operator’s job is to carefully tow your car and keep you safe. Allow them to do just that.

6. Be responsive

If you’ve requested a tow, make sure the tow truck operator can contact you. They may call to inform you that they’ve run into a snag or that the location they were given was wrong and they need your help. In any case, keep your phone on you and answer when it rings. It’s probably your tow truck driver trying to find you and get you on your way.

7. Be descriptive

A tow truck driver may ask you where you are or what’s wrong with your car. Even if you don’t know either of these things, be as descriptive as you can. The more information a driver has, the quicker and more easily they may be able to help you.

If they ask for your location, and you can’t name a street, look for landmarks and describe what’s around you. Retrace your steps through the directions that got you to your location. If you don’t know what exactly is wrong with your car, describe noises, jitters, irregular patterns, etc. Any information can be valuable.

8. Use your wait to be as prepared as possible

If you’re waiting in a safe space, use the wait time to be productive and helpful. If you’re having engine troubles, open the hood of your car so an operator can more easily find you. Plus, it will already provide them access to the potential problem when they arrive. If you need a spare tire change, clear out the necessary area to get the spare out easily. If your car won’t start, have a nearby towing destination in mind in case your operator finds a bigger issue to be fixed in a shop.

No one likes to wait, so use your initial wait time to make the actual tow as smooth as possible.

9. Talk to the driver if you like, appropriately

Tow truck drivers spend a lot of time on the road alone. So, sometimes a polite conversation is welcome. However, it’s important to read the situation. Feel out if your driver is super focused or doesn’t want to talk before striking up a conversation or wait until they start one with you.

Keep the discussion topics appropriate for someone you’ve just met. You may be curious about their personal lives or the stories they have from the road, but unless your operator specifically brings those types of stories up, refrain from asking for details.

10. Be patient

At the end of the day, tow truck drivers are just people. They’re trained to handle your car, but they have feelings and bad days and they’re trying their best. They know you’re probably scared or irritated or angry when you call them, but they are trying to help. Realize that there are sometimes errors or delays in communication that stall a driver’s dispatch time. Sometimes, they just have difficulty finding you or your car’s problem. Things happen.

These are just some overall tips to keep in mind when interacting with a tow truck driver. A tow may disrupt your day, but everyone ultimately wants to help you stay safe and on the go.

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