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All Roadside Assistance Tow Trucks Should Have Back Seats For Stranded Passengers

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By John Goreham G+ May 3 2021 -  TorqueNews


Why don’t all tow trucks from AAA and other roadside assistance providers have back seats to help transport stranded motorists? In this story, we offer our opinion on the subject.


As manufacturers continue to roll out new vehicles without spare tires, towing is becoming the backup plan for many vehicle owners who have no spare tire and who may damage a tire beyond a simple puncture. As we learned firsthand this past year, many roadside assistance providers are no longer transporting stranded motorists. This trend, combined with rideshare providers like Uber being unreliable during the past year in some places, leads to a stranded motorist.


Our recent stories highlighting this issue drew strong opinions from readers. Some feel that a ride in an emergency should be part of the service that roadside assistance provides. For example, reader Kathrine M wrote, "Giving your customer a ride is part of the duties of towing, I think. People stranded on the freeway, in a bad neighborhood, or in a remote location could get hurt." Others had a different view. For us, the option to ride in the recovery vehicle to our destination, our home, or as a last resort a place of safety off the highway, is a slam dunk.


One reason this is not the standard practice is that in the past many towing and recovery vehicles only had one row of seats. However, the companies that provide the basic vehicle from which a tow truck is then built upon offer two-row cabs. So why don’t all tow trucks have a second row with three seats across and a front bench seat that can seat two beside the driver in an emergency? Every top-20-selling vehicle model in America is a five-passenger vehicle. Such a configuration would allow a tow or recovery responder to transport the vast majority of those who need assistance.


During COVID, it was understandable that some roadside assistance operators may have objected to being in an enclosed truck cab with passengers who may be contagious. This despite the fact that taxi and rideshare divers did it all day every day on their shifts. However, every adult in America is now eligible for vaccination, including every roadside assistance driver. At some point, either today or in the near future, riding in a vehicle with a stranger will again be considered safe and reasonable.


We highlight the lack of spare tires in new models every time we test one. We feel that a spare tire is a safety feature that should be standard on all but the most unique sports cars. Setting aside tire failures, breakdowns and minor crashes that require unharmed vehicle occupants to be transported make up a meaningful percentage of roadside assistance dispatches.


We hope this story will be one of many that might emerge to highlight the shortcomings of present-day roadside assistance. Adding in the safe transportation of those with car trouble by the roadside assistance responder seems logical and overdue.


What is your opinion? Should we continue to leave passengers stranded or at the mercy of unreliable ride-share providers? Or should the roadside assistance companies to which we subscribe step up and always come prepared to move stranded motorists to a better, or at least safer, location? Tell us in the comments below.




John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

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It is not the responsibility of the roadside company to ensure the safety of the motorist. This is strictly a courtesy. It is not included in the contract that passengers be transported to a safe haven. If customers want to effect change, they need to put pressure on their roadside service to pay for that accessory. Crew cab trucks, as well as extended cab trucks cost extra money. And there needs to be a ROI on the expense.

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I am not one to transport customers even before this Covid crap.. It is simply not my job. I am not a taxi. The added risk of liability is my number one reason behind it. People these days are so quick to sue anybody over anything. I got a buddy who owns another company in town who is going through the wringer right now because some bozo he gave a ride to claims he slipped getting out of his truck and screwed his ankle up. Supposedly he has had 2 surgeries already and claims he will never walk right again. Worse part is, My buddies already through the roof insurance rates went up even more and STILL wont cover this guys claims stating they do not provide coverage for passengers. 

Motor clubs dont pay enough for the services they already get from the industry. theres no way they would pay enough to offset the costs of running a crew cab rig. 

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There are some companies that have purchased these trucks for the specific reason of carrying more passengers. They have not researched and are unaware of their insurance coverage until an issue arises. As well there may still be laws in some states or locales in regards to transporting passengers without a special permit or license. This could also present a problem if a passenger is injured, even more so if there was an additional charge or fee for the passenger(s). Acknowledging, there should be compensation for the extended service which is not regular. The fact is the motorist have often expected to ride with the tow truck because it was going to their destination. If anything Covid has changed that mindset to some degree and in my opinion should be something that is researched further. We will transport a customer to a safe location if there is a danger otherwise they were informed at first contact they would need to secure transportation themselves. If the destination is close within a couple of miles often we will transport them if there is no other alternative. This has not been an issue, but as far as investing in a quad cab we have not gone that far. Perhaps, if as stated above the ROI was there then we would seriously consider that as our next unit. Right Now, the additional expense and possible increase in premiums cannot be justified. We Tow Vehicles and are not obligated to transport people. That practice is old, the industry has changed and the practice is outdated for numerous reason. Though, I know many who will argue the point till the lawsuit is a reality in our sue happy world. The Motor Clubs don't Pay well enough to tell us we have to take their passengers. As a note, the motor clubs we deal with have been great about informing the customer they need to find alternative transportation. Now if we could just get them the pay us to move tire changes off the interstate. Instead they send out private cars with little lights and often just 4 ways. No Safety Vests or other Warning Devices.

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