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The American Transportation Research Institute analyzed the long-running controversy with towing practices.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released a report on November 29 of this year, analyzing the longstanding controversy in the road transport sector related to towing practices between 2021 and 2023.

According to ATRI’s detailed analysis, around 30% of invoices for heavy-duty truck towing related to accidents included excessive fees or unjustified additional charges. The aim of this study is to improve the relationship between towing and road transport industries.

Shawn Brown, Vice President of Safety at Cargo Transporters and former chairman of ATRI’s research advisory committee, commented that the so-called “predatory towing” is a costly issue for both carriers and towing companies, and it has been overlooked for too long. The intention with this analysis is to prompt reviews and the implementation of regulations to address the situation.

Among the data published by ATRI, it is emphasized that the most common types of predatory towing focus on excessive fees, experienced by 82.7% of carriers, and unjustified charges for additional services, experienced by 81.8% involved in road transport.

The problems of predatory towing

The increase in towing costs has been a concern for the American Trucking Association for several years. Prices have become so excessive that they have reached up to $202,000 per towing service, according to a case highlighted in ATRI’s research in Wisconsin.

However, the situation is not limited to high fees. ATRI surveyed 350 carriers for its study, asking them to identify the eight main types of abusive towing they had experienced, classifying them based on their impact on operations. The most common ones were:

  • Excessive hourly or per-pound fees
  • Unjustified additional charges for equipment or labor
  • Excessive daily storage fees

Among others are delays in vehicle release or access issues, delays in cargo release, unwarranted vehicle seizures, tow trucks falsely declaring non-consensual tows as consensual, and damage due to the use of inappropriate towing equipment.

The issue of excessive towing expenses has become a recurring theme for carriers in recent years. ATRI aims to expose these instances of abuse in the transport industry, proposing regulations to regulate towing costs and services.


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