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Towing fee transparency meeting announced for June

Interested parties may comment before July 1

Posted May 3, 2024

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced a public meeting to gain industry perspective on predatory towing practices and how towing fees are disclosed.

The goal of the meeting is for interested parties to discuss common trends in commercial towing to help reduce the negative impacts of predatory towing on the trucking industry. Ultimately, the FMCSA believes tow companies should only charge legitimate fees that are transparent and well-communicated between all parties.

The meeting takes place on June 21, 2024, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST. Those who can’t attend may submit written comments before July 1.


Last November, the Federal Trade Commission published a notice of proposed rulemaking, “Rule on Unfair or Deceptive Fees,” to ban misleading behaviors that misrepresent the total costs of goods or services by hiding fees or by not explaining the full nature of fees. Because the FMCSA believes the transport industry can benefit from this proposed rule, the agency has called a meeting to find out how stakeholders, carriers, towing operations, and other industry professionals feel about more transparency to fend off predatory towing practices.

What is predatory towing?

According to the FMCSA, predatory towing for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) happens in two main contexts:

  1. Consensual context: When a CMV owner or operator requests towing services after an accident or breakdown and gives permission for the towing.
  2. Nonconsensual context: When an officer or property owner requests than an illegally parked vehicle be towed and the CMV owner or operator does not give permission for the towing.

In both cases, CMV owners are operators are at risk for predatory actions where the towing company may use different strategies to get more money from the owner/operator, using the vehicle as leverage. These strategies might include hiding fees, price gouging, or not explaining fees appropriately. Owners and operators are vulnerable because they often don't have any kind of business relationship with the towing company (when the vehicle has traveled far) and are usually eager to get the vehicle back as quickly as possible.

This article was written by Lucero Truszkowski of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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