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Contract Tow Program Qualifications and Guidelines (Law)


(Statutory authority: Executive Law, §§ 91, 102-106, Highway Law, §§ 10, 14, 15; State Finance Law, § 174; Transportation Law, §§ 14, 70, 71; Vehicle and Traffic Law, §§ 1621, 1623, 1630)

Section Section
185.1 Applicability 185.7 Termination of towing contracts
185.2 Towing contracts 185.8 Emergency situations
185.3 Parkways 185.9 Insurance
185.4 Qualifications 185.10 Abandoned vehicles
185.5 Competitive bidding 185.11 Debris and road cleanup
185.6 Schedule of charges 185.12 Towing for department

Section 185.1 Applicability. No person shall engage in the business of commercial towing or emergency road service operations, solicit for such business, or engage in such activities on any parkway in Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam or Westchester County (but excluding the Bronx River Parkway and Bear Mountain State Parkway in Westchester County), unless authorized by contract obtained from the New York State Department of Transportation. Towing and emergency road service operations shall be subject to the rules and regulations contained in this Part, and to such specific conditions as may be set forth in each contract. Any person holding a contract shall be obligated to respond to all calls for towing or emergency road service operations covered by the contract on a 24-hour-per-day, seven-day-per-week basis, without exception. Contractors may only operate on parkways in direct response to calls for assistance.


185.2 Towing Contracts.

  1. Contracts for towing and emergency road service with the New York State Department of Transportation shall be awarded on the basis of competitive bidding. Contracts shall be awarded to the highest responsible bidder for a term not to exceed one year; however, the department may specify that it shall have the option to extend the contract for a term or terms not to exceed two additional years, which may or may not be exercised by the Department as it shall deem in the public interest. The Department may also specify that bids contain a provision that the contractor agree to provide service during such option term or terms at the same annual fee as set forth in its bid. The contractor is not entitled to such an option term or terms.
  2. Contracts shall authorize only towing and emergency road service operations on the particular zone of such parkway for which awarded, except as specifically provided in this Part.
  3. Contracts are not transferable, delegable or assignable without the approval of the Department. The Department will approve a transfer, assignment, or delegation only upon a finding that the public will continue to receive adequate service.
  4. With the award of each contract, the Department shall issue tower identification forms, which must be kept in all towing vehicles at all times while conducting operations under the contract. Further, the Contractor's name, address, and telephone number must be permanently affixed on each side of each vehicle used in connection with the parkway towing contract.
  5. All tow trucks, other equipment, and premises to be utilized in Parkway operations are subject to inspection by the Department prior to engaging in Parkway activity. These items shall be further subject to Department inspection, with or without prior notice, at any time during the term of the contract.

185.3 Parkways. Contracts shall be awarded for the following parkway zones:

Zone Parkway Zone Limits
1 Hutchinson River Parkway New York City line to the bridge carrying the Hutchinson River Parkway over Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains.
2 Hutchinson River Parkway Bridge carrying the Hutchinson River Parkway over Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains to the Connecticut State Line.
3 Cross County Parkway From intersection with Hutchinson River Parkway to intersection with Saw Mill River Parkway.
4 Saw Mill River Parkway New York City line to Lawrence Street in Dobbs Ferry.
5 Saw Mill River Parkway Lawrence Street in Dobbs Ferry to Marble Avenue in Thornwood.
6 Saw Mill River Parkway Marble Avenue in Thornwood to I684 in Katonah.
7 Sprain Brook State Parkway From Bronx River Parkway to Taconic Parkway State Parkway.
8 Taconic State Parkway From Kensico Dam Plaza in Town of Mount Pleasant to Route 100.
9 Taconic State Parkway From Route 100 to Route US 6.
10 Taconic State Parkway From Route US 6 to Route 301.
11 Taconic State Parkway From Route 301 to Route 55.
12 Taconic State Parkway From Route 55 to Route 199.
13 Taconic State Parkway From Route 199 to Route 23.
14 Taconic State Parkway From Route 23 to New York State Thruway.

(Boundaries between zones are defined by location of the entrance ramps)


185.4 Qualifications. Contracts shall be awarded only to responsible bidders. As a minimum, each applicant must be able to demonstrate prior to award that the following qualifications are met, as well as any additional qualifications set forth in the bidding notice, as a prerequisite to obtaining a contract:

  1. Availability. The bidder or one of its employees shall be reachable by phone at all times at a designated phone number or numbers. Contractors must respond to all calls for towing or emergency road service operations covered by the contract on a 24-hour-per-day, seven-day-per-week basis, without exception.
  2. Equipment. Bidder must have a minimum of two or more suitable towing vehicles, (one or more of which must be a flatbed), reasonably equipped as necessary to furnish emergency towing and road services. Towing vehicle(s), if not owned by the bidder, shall be under sole lease by the bidder for the term of the towing contract. Rate signs must be permanently affixed on all trucks. Leased trucks must also have bidders name and address and telephone number permanently affixed to each side of the truck. All tow trucks to be utilized in parkway operations are subject to inspection by the Department prior to engaging in Parkway activity. This requirement shall also apply to trucks acquired by a Contractor during the term of a towing contract.
  3. Response Time. Bidder must be able to respond to calls for towing services on the particular segment of the parkway within 30 minutes upon receipt of call, as shown on a response call log, which shall be maintained by the contractor and available for inspection by the Department of Transportation at all times. Logs at a minimum, must indicate time of call and time of service.
  4. Repair facility. Bidder must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Department that it is the operator of a motor vehicle repair shop registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles under Article 12 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law. If the premises on which the motor vehicle repair shop is situated is not owned by the bidder, a written lease for use of the premises covering the term of the towing contract must be provided.
  5. Storage Lot. Bidder must own or lease for the term of the contract, a secure storage lot for a minimum of twenty-five (25) cars. Such storage lot shall be within one half (1/2) mile from the bidders repair facility.
  6. The bidder must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles as a vehicle dismantler, salvage pool, mobile car crusher or itinerant vehicle collector before a contract will be awarded.
  7. The bidder shall demonstrate the equipment in use at the time of inspection is capable of two-way communication between the point of incoming calls for assistance and the furthermost point in the zone. Either radio or mobile telephone shall be considered adequate for this purpose.
  8. The bidder shall maintain an interbank charge card in its own name, in the form of a Merchant's Account with a qualified financial institution. The bidder shall honor at least one major charge card billable through this account. Acceptance of this charge card is to be prominently displayed on all of the Bidder's vehicles used in performance of the towing contract on the Parkways.
  9. The bidder must furnish and use an invoice in Parkway Operations, in a format provided by the State, which shall include a rate schedule.
  10. Contractors will be required to carry up to five (5) gallons of Regular Unleaded Gasoline at all times while operating on the Parkways. Transportation of gasoline is subject to State and Federal Laws and regulations which must be obeyed. Information regarding transportation of gasoline can be obtained from:

NYS Department of Transportation
Traffic and Safety Division
Building 5
Governor Harriman Campus
Albany NY 12232
Telephone: (518)457-3406

The Department may set such additional requirements, applying to all parkway zones or to particular zones, as it may determine are necessary. All bidders shall be given notice of such additional requirements at the time bids are solicited.


185.5 Competitive bidding.

  1. Towing contracts shall be awarded by the department on the basis of competitive bidding to the highest qualified bidder. The department shall advertise for such bids, giving reasonable time and public notice. Bidders must submit with their bids a certified check or cashier's check payable to the department in an amount equal to 25 percent of their bid. Bid deposits shall be returned to unsuccessful bidders. If no acceptable bids are received for any parkway zone, the department may negotiate for towing and emergency road services, and award a contract on the basis of such negotiations.
  2. If the apparent highest bidder does not meet all the qualifications established in this Part and in the notice, the department shall make an award to the next highest qualified bidder.
  3. Payment of fee by contractor shall be in three-month increments and shall be received by the department no later than ten calendar days prior to the beginning of each three-month term. If any payment is not received according to this schedule, contractor will be assessed a penalty fee of 1% of the amount due per day for each day payment is late. If payment is not received by the beginning of the three month term, contractor will be suspended or terminated. Bid deposit will serve as the first quarterly payment for successful bidders.

185.6 Schedule of charges.

  1. No contractor may charge for towing or emergency road services or storage covered by these regulations in excess of the schedule of charges set forth in the contract with the Department. The Department shall provide the schedule of charges to be included in the Contract at the time of the solicitation of bids for each contract.
  2. The contractor shall not require that a vehicle be towed to any particular shop for repairs, but shall tow the vehicle to any location designated by the operator of the towed vehicle.
  3. The contractor shall give the operator of the disabled vehicle a copy of the Department's approved invoice. No other invoice may be used in Parkway operations.
  4. All contractors must honor at least one major interbank charge card for services rendered under this Part. Contractors may not refuse towing or emergency service for lack of the motorist's immediate ability to pay, and may not require collateral for release of vehicles.
  5. No contractor shall induce or require any operator of a motor vehicle being charged for towing or other services under this Part to execute a waiver of liability for damages to his vehicle caused by the contractor, and no such waiver of liability shall be legally enforced.
  6. No "yard charges" will be assessed for moving of vehicles while in the contractor's possession. Vehicles must be available for release Monday through Saturday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sundays are excluded as are the following holidays: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day (4th of July), Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day.
  7. Although commerical vehicles do not generally operate on the parkways, there may be times when certain commercial vehicles may use the parkway (i.e. fuel deliveries, buses, etc.) In the event that a commercial vehicle becomes disabled within the areas covered by Parkway Towing Contracts, the contractor will be permitted to charge the prevailing rate for commercial towing.

185.7 Termination of towing contracts.

  1. Termination for regulatory violation. The Department may terminate any contract awarded pursuant to this Part upon a finding of a violation of the terms of the contract, violation of these regulations, violations of law, or other incapacity. Grounds for termination shall include, but shall not be limited to: charging in excess of the authorized schedule, failure to timely respond to towing calls, unsafe practices, failure to maintain proper insurance and failure to timely submit contract fee. No refund of fee shall be made to a contractor upon such termination.
  2. Termination in the public interest. The Department may terminate any contract at any time without a specific finding of regulatory violation whenever it believes that the public interest or safety would better be served by such termination. However, in such case, the department shall refund to contractor, on a pro rata basis, that portion of the fee paid by the contractor for the unexpired term of the contract.
  3. If any contract is terminated under this section, the department shall make such interim arrangements as may be necessary for the protection of public safety, pending award of another contract pursuant to these regulations.

185.8 Emergency Situations. The Department or police authority shall, whenever public safety requires, allow towers without contracts on the parkways. In addition, contractors must provide service on a zone immediately adjacent to the zone authorized in its contract, at the direction of the police.


185.9 Insurance. The contractor shall assume all responsibility and liability for damages to persons or property that may accrue during the operation of any of contractor's vehicles on the parkway through the negligence of itself, its agent, employees, or from any other cause, and agrees to hold harmless the State of New York. For such purposes, the contractor shall obtain and maintain, at contractor's own cost and expense, for the term of the contract, protective liability insurance in accordance with the following minimum requirements:

Bodily damages (including death),
each occurrence
Property damage, each accident
(includes provision for vehicles in tow
and in tower's possession after towing)
Aggregate $500,000
  1. As evidence that the required insurance has been obtained, the Department requires the Contractor to furnish a certificate of insurance in a form satisfactory to the Department. The Contractor will complete FORM C218 and insure that it is on file in the Department's Albany, NY Central Office within ten calendar days of receipt by the Contractor of an approved contract. The State shall be the SOLE named insured on the policy.

This insurance is to protect the People of the State of New York, the Commissioner of Transportation, and all employees of the named insured. There shall be no coinsured parties covered by this policy. The policy shall cover liability of the named insured for damages for any actions resulting from the use of this contract, including omissions and supervisory actions of the State. The subscribing company shall agree that no policy insured shall be changed or cancelled until 30 days' notice has been given to the Department. Failure to maintain proper insurance on file with the Department will result in immediate suspension or termination.


185.10 Abandoned vehicles. It is hereby found that the presence of abandoned motor vehicles on State parkways subject to this Part is a public nuisance and danger and potential traffic hazard. All contractors shall be obligated, at the direction of the police, to remove within a reasonable time any and all abandoned vehicles within its zone and secure the vehicle in its impound lot until disposition is made pursuant to law. The Department shall not be liable to contractor for the cost of such towing, storage or impounding. The contractor agrees to accept, as total compensation for any and all obligations resulting from towing, storage and impounding such vehicles, the rights granted to the contractor under the Vehicle and Traffic Law. Disposition of all impounded vehicles shall be in accordance with the Vehicle and Traffic Law. The Department requires that bidders be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles as a vehicle dismantler, salvage pool, mobile car crusher or itinerant vehicle collector (15 NYCRR Part 81).


185.11 Debris and road cleanup. The contractor shall clean up all debris resulting from an accident and/or the repair of a vehicle, and shall perform such other cleanup services as directed by a police officer.


185.12 Towing for Department. The contractor, upon the request of the Department shall provide vehicles, manpower and equipment to perform emergency towing on or from a parkway, under the supervision of an authorized representative of the Department. This service will be paid for on an hourly basis by the Department and no charge will be made to the parkway motorist. This rental system will be put into effect by the Department at its discretion during emergency periods. The rental rate to be paid by the Department shall be considered as reimbursement for all costs during such emergency periods, including breakage, furnishing of equipment, furnishing of personnel, etc. The Department specifically reserves the right to set the hours that such rental will be in effect, as well as the number of trucks and workers to be utilized. The rental rate for towing under Part 185.12 is $20 per hour for use of a tow truck, including operator, plus $5 per hour for an additional operator when authorized by the Department.