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What does a Tow Truck Driver do?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A tow truck driver hauls damaged, abandoned, or illegally parked vehicles away from roads and parking lots. He or she operates a specialized truck that is equipped with a mechanism for lifting and pulling other vehicles. Public safety, efficiency, and communication are major aspects of the job, and drivers are usually required to keep careful logs of their daily work and dealings with car owners. Most professional tow truck drivers are employed by private towing and impound companies, automobile service stations, salvage yards, and car dealerships.

Many private companies and parking enforcement organizations have a relationship with one or more towing companies to provide services on an on-call basis. When a car has been left unattended or abandoned in a parking structure for a long period of time, the business owner can call a tow truck driver to remove the vehicle. Automobiles that are parked in illegal zones on the street are also subject to towing if parking enforcement officials or police officers recommend it. At an impound lot, tow truck drivers record the cars they bring in, contact owners, and explain why their vehicles were towed. They often deal with customers in person to collect impounding fees and return vehicles to their owners.

A tow truck driver who works for a service station, dealership, or insurance provider might be called if a person is stranded on the road. The driver will inspect the vehicle and make small repairs if possible, to get it back in working condition. If the car cannot be repaired, the driver brings it along with the owner to a servicing station for more detailed work. After a particularly bad accident involving one or more cars, a tow truck driver rushes to the scene to clear the roadway. The damaged vehicles are then delivered to police evidence lots or salvage yards.

There are generally no strict educational or training requirements to become a tow truck driver. An able-bodied individual with a high school diploma and a standard driver's license can apply for positions at towing companies, salvage yards, or service stations. Most new employees receive on-the-job training from other drivers, accompanying them on jobs to learn about the various equipment and techniques involved with the job. Some companies offer up to 40 hours of classroom instruction for new drivers so they can become familiar with laws and corporate policies. Specialized certification is not typically required, though some individuals choose to take written exams offered by national associations to improve their credentials.

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Discussion Comments

By chivebasil — On Feb 29, 2012

Has anyone ever worked for AAA before. I see their ads in the paper all the time looking for tow truck drivers but I am not sure what it would be like to work for a huge company like that. I have only ever worked for independent guys and little shops, basically the opposite of AAA. What is it like?

By jonrss — On Feb 29, 2012

@whiteplane - Absolutely! Well said! I worked as a tow truck driver for almost 20 years and it was one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs I ever had. And like you say, you are doing important work.

I worked for a company that got called in to do a lot of emergency response on the highway. We were really close to a major interchange that saw a lot of accidents. It doesn't matter how fast the cops or ambulance or firetrucks get there, that accident is not getting cleared up and traffic is not moving until the tow truck gets there to haul the cars away. Without us rush hour lasts for 4 hours.

By whiteplane — On Feb 28, 2012

People think of tow truck drives as sort of dumb blue collar workers but the undeniable truth is that they perform a dangerous and very important job. I have been helped out of a number of terrible situations by the sweat and kindness of tow truck drivers.

Having a broken down car is one of the most stressful experiences you can have, especially if you have had a wreck or are along the highway. And what are you going to do, it's not like you can just push your car out of the way or pick it up and take it with you. When you need a tow truck you really need a tow truck. We should be more grateful for the good work these men and women do.

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