8 Things to Know Before You Call a Tow Truck

When you are involved in a car accident, your instinctual response might be to say “my car isn’t safe to drive anymore, my car needs to be towed.” It makes sense in the moment; you’re probably pretty shaken, your heart is racing, and you might not be thinking straight. In order to make the best decision about what to do in that situation, here are eight things you should do before calling a tow truck:

1. Turn on your hazard lights and get to safety.

Basically, let people know you’re going to be stopped so as not to put other people in danger, then make sure you’re not in immediate danger. After getting into an accident, you might be shaken, nervous, and not in a state to calmly assess your situation. That’s why it’s important that you turn on your hazards and then move to a location that you know is safe. Being in a safe place will allow you to relax a little before returning to figuring out your next steps.

2. Assess the situation

Before you call for a tow truck, make sure you actually need one. If you were only in a minor fender bender you might be fine to keep driving, but if the damage seems serious, you know the issue but can’t fix it yourself, or if you’re unable to determine whether or not there is a problem, that’s when you should consider getting a tow. Since towing services tend to be very expensive, it’s always worth trying to get a handle on the situation yourself before making the call.

3. Take pictures of the damage

Taking pictures of the damage from the accident can help you report the damage to your insurance provider, and can help differentiate between damage caused by the accident and damage caused during towing. When taking pictures of the damage you should take pictures of all sides of the car and take note of any major damage that you can see.

4. Call the police to let them know you’re waiting to be towed

Depending on what’s happened to your car, the police could fine you for blocking traffic or, in the worst case, they can tow your car without your permission. Letting them know that you’re already taking care of the situation can not only prevent these misunderstandings, but can allow them to help facilitate the process if necessary, turning on their police lights to make oncoming drivers aware of your vehicle and thus preventing further problems.

5. Call your insurance company

Calling your insurance company might not be the first thing on your mind after an accident but it’s definitely worth doing. Your insurance provider can help you assess the damage done to your vehicle and figure out which towing company to call. Depending on your insurance plan, your insurance provider might even cover the cost of towing.

6. Decide where you want the vehicle towed to

In most situations, you’re the one that decides where the tow truck takes your vehicle. Depending on where you are when you get into an accident, you might want the truck to tow your car to a mechanic near your house or your workplace so it’s easy for you to get back to your car. Also, check with the towing company when you call and see whether they will tow to the location that you want, or if the company tows to a particular garage.

7. Remove anything valuable from your car and close your windows.

If you’re able to get to your car, make sure to remove anything of value that you can carry on your person and to close your windows. Your car likely isn’t going anywhere for a while, and the last thing you’ll need at that moment is for someone to steal your belongings from your wrecked car.

8. Find somewhere nearby that’s safe to wait, especially at night.

It might be a while before the truck arrives, and it might not be safe or productive to wait by or in your car. If you can, find somewhere safe, such as a coffee shop, where you can wait for the tow truck. It’s imperative that you don’t venture too far, though, since you will still need to be there when the tow truck arrives.