The provincial government is introducing restricted tow zones on certain sections of Ontario’s highways this month, and the pilot program begins in the GTA.
The Ministry of Transportation announced their plan to build more restricted towing zones in the province starting December 13, 2021. The project will span over four years, and the Ministry released a map showing four highway sites they’ll begin working on.
“The Tow Zone Pilot will help us clear incidents such as collisions or vehicle breakdowns on our highways more safely and quickly,” the government said in their announcement.
The program is aimed at protecting drivers from unauthorized towing companies charging hiked-up prices for their services, and instead providing standard pricing and invoicing for towing services in the restricted zone.
“Restricted towing zones are defined sections of provincial highways where only authorized towing companies can remove vehicles that require a tow,” Ontario’s press release read. “This means no other towing company can solicit towing of vehicles within a restricted towing zone.”
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The pilot program’s goals also include ensuring tow operators have the training, experience and proper equipment to clear highways safely and efficiently, as well as reducing congestion and delays on provincial highways by clearing them more quickly.
Restricted towing zone locations:
- Restricted Towing Zone 1: Highway 401 from Highway 400 east to Morningside Avenue
- Restricted Towing Zone 2:
- Highway 401 from Highway 400 west to Regional Road 25
- Highway 427 from QEW to Highway 409
- Highway 409 from Highway 427 to Highway 401
- Restricted Towing Zone 3: Highway 400 from Highway 401 to Highway 9
- Restricted Towing Zone 4: QEW from Highway 427 to Brant Street
The province also advises drivers stay calm if stranded on the highway in a restricted towing zone, call 911 if an emergency has occurred, or call 511 in case they need non-emergency tow services.
If the vehicle is not operational, drivers are recommended to turn their vehicle’s hazard lights on and use safety cones, warning triangles, or flares oncoming traffic.
If the vehicle is operational, drivers should take the next exit or move the vehicle to a shoulder location — only when it is safe to do so.
The Ministry also advised drivers to stay in their vehicle while on the highway, wait for responders to arrive, and not try to repair their vehicle themselves.
Rates and methods of payment to use the tow zones can be found here, and the preferred modes of payment are credit or debit card.