18 Key U.S. Towing Industry Statistics

towing industry statistics

You know what’s worse than having your car break down on the side of the road? Not having access to a towing company to help out with it.

Everyone with a vehicle has needed the help of a tow truck driver at some point. It’s a big and growing industry that is unlikely to go away any time soon. That’s why we’ve rounded up some eye-opening statistics about the industry.

We’re covering everything from the towing industry market cap and projected growth, the average cost of a tow, and insights into industry demographics. Without further ado, let’s dive right into it.

Key Insights

  • The market size for the US towing industry is estimated to be $10.3 billion in 2023, with a projected growth rate of 4.1%.
  • An estimated 55,000 vehicles are towed daily in America and this number is poised to grow considering the average age of a vehicle in America is 12.1 years.
  • The US towing industry contains 43,816 registered businesses with a combined 97,871 employees.
  • An average tow truck business in America employs 5 employees
  • Towing industry has the highest fatality rate among all private industries in America. With 44 deaths per 100,000 workers, the fatality rate in the towing industry is 15 times more than the national average of 2.9 deaths per 100,000 workers. 
  • Roadside assistance in the US and Canada was valued at $5.3 billion in 2020.
  • The global roadside assistance market is expected to grow rapidly, with a CAGR of 5.5%, reaching $38.5 billion by 2028.
  • In 2022, an estimated 88 million roadside assistance calls were made in America. On average 80% of the RSA calls are resolved without a tow. 
  • The average annual salary of a tow truck driver in the United States is $38,555 (~$18.54 hourly). Location is a significant factor in determining the salary.
  • The national average cost of towing service is $110 in the US, with a minimum of $60 for local towing.
  • The average tow in the US is between 10 miles and 40 miles.
  • The average age of a tow truck driver in America is 47 years
  • 95.6% of tow truck drivers are men and women account for just 4.4%.
  • 57% of tow truck drivers have earned a high school diploma, 15% an associate degree and 14% a diploma degree.
  • The most common type of tow truck in North America is a flatbed tow truck.
how many vehicles are towed daily in America

The Tow Truck Industry Market Cap and Expected Growth

1. In 2022, the automobile towing US market size was $11.3 billion and is expected to end the year with 2.9% growth.

Overall, the industry has grown by 5.5% year over year from 2017 to 2022. That is faster than the American economy overall. The main reason for the growth is the increasing number of vehicles on the road. 

As more vehicles come onto the road, there will naturally be more accidents. In addition, we can expect more vehicles to be improperly parked, and many other reasons vehicles will naturally break down on the road. Of course, there’s no ill will here. The statistics simply speak for themselves.

2. From 2017 to 2019, the US towing market experienced an average annual growth of 4.7%, reaching $7.1 billion in revenue.

Although lockdowns disrupted the supply chain in 2020 and 2021, the industry is expected to see a bounce back and continued overall growth. As COVID-19 measures continue to subside and people resume their regular travel habits, towing is expected to come back and even exceed previous highs.

That makes this a great time to enter the industry, as there is a gap from when many tow truck companies went out of business during the pandemic.

3. The US has 43,816 registered towing businesses with 97,871 employees.

As one can see, towing companies tend to be small, personally owned companies, and very few own even 1% of the US market share of the industry. With over 55,000 vehicles towed daily, there is always lots of room for new towing businesses in the market, as very few special features allow the bigger companies to do a better job. 

Looking at the current gap in the market and the ease of smaller companies to start in the industry with the projected growth over the next few years, a tow truck business seems like a promising venture.

4. In 2022, total vehicle miles are expected to increase.

This presents a great opportunity for the industry, as the more vehicle miles are up, the more likely they will break down on the road.

As vehicles with higher mileage are older, their likelihood of breaking down is higher. This, in turn, means an increase in the number of calls to tow truck services when the total number of vehicle miles is higher overall.

One reason for this may be the tightening of purse strings during the pandemic, which led to an increase in used car sales, and a decrease in new car sales.

The Average Cost of Towing

5. In the US, the average towing rate is $110 per service, with a minimum of $60 for local towing.

In addition to the basic towing cost, clients add $2-4 per additional mile, depending on the company. Many factors can affect towing costs, including the specific company, region, and the size and type of vehicle being towed. Time of day can also affect towing cost.

Generally, companies will provide free estimates, but clients can check their car insurance policy for details on its towing services. Most people have some form of roadside assistance to call to help with whatever problem they have when their vehicle breaks down.

6. For state-to-state towing, one company, National Express, has their car towing at an average of $0.7 per mile.

It depends on the distance for the exact price. It’s $1 per mile for 500 miles or less, $0.75 for 1000 miles or more, and $0.45 per mile for cross-country towing. Their website even features a convenient shipping calculator, letting you get price estimates fast and efficiently.

Other companies will have different rates, varying based on state and region. Of course, it also depends on the type of vehicle being towed.

7. The average tow is between a local tow (5 to 10 miles) and 40 miles.

Most tows are local – between 5 and 10 miles. The national average tow cost is $109, and anything above 40 miles will be $125- $275, so we can calculate the average tow distance between a local tow (5 to 10 miles) and 40 miles.

It’s not easy to calculate a more exact figure, but it’s likely closer to the local tow mark than the 40 miles or more based on the minimum cost of local tows.

Largest Towing Companies

8. No company has over 5% of the US towing company market share.

Some of the biggest players in the US towing company market are: United Road Towing Inc., Shamrock Towing Inc., All City Tow Service, Lance Wrecker Service LLC, and McDonald’s Towing & Rescue Inc.

With around 500,000 dispatched tows annually, United Road Towing, Inc., is currently the largest towing company in the US. Even this company only makes up a minority of the towing industry market share, and there is always room for more towing companies to take their own piece of the pie.

Most Common Types of Tow Truck

9. Currently, the Flatbed Tow Truck is the most common type in North America.

Also called a ‘rollback’ truck, it has a long, empty bed to place a vehicle in on the back. A flatbed tow truck uses hydraulics to move the bed up and down, securing the vehicle on the bed, then lifting and transporting it. 

This type of truck has a weight limit, which limits its options. However, it is one of the safest towing methods, making it the most common.

10. Other common tow trucks include Hook and Chain Trucks and a Wheel Lift.

Probably the image you have in your mind of a tow truck is a hook and chain, which is the oldest method of towing. The vehicle is hooked to the tow truck by a chain, lifted, and pulled from behind. However, this puts a lot of pressure on the towing vehicle and has lost popularity. 

The wheel lift is similar but uses a yoke to carry the vehicle using its front wheels. A yoke is a bar brought under the towed vehicle’s wheels and used to lift it. They are simple and safe, but can only be used on smaller vehicles. 

Different Tow Truck Capacities

11. Generally, AWD and 4x4 vehicles are the preferred vehicles for flat towing.

Other types of vehicles will need to use a different tow system. Everything depends on the specific features and what’s said in the owner’s manual, as things such as the transmission disconnect and steering lockout override can all play a role.

Depending on the general distribution of vehicles in your area, flatbed towing can be more or less lucrative, so it’s important to look into.

Average Tow Truck Wait Time

12. The average wait time for a tow truck is between 30 and 45 minutes.

Many factors can affect the wait time. Some tow truck services even provide a premium service that can come faster than 30 minutes. The most common factor affecting the wait length is how rural the area where the breakdown occurred is. Traffic, weather, and construction can all have significant effects on wait time as well.

Roadside Assistance Stats

13. Roadside assistance was valued at $5.3 billion in the US and Canada in 2020.

The market in the two countries is estimated to grow at a compound annual rate of 3.66%, reaching $6.6 billion by 2026.

In North America, the major players in roadside assistance are AXA Assistance Canada, Access Roadside Assistance, Allstate, Intact Financial Corporation, and a few others.

14. The global roadside assistance market is expected to reach $38.5 billion by 2028, growing rapidly at a CAGR of 5.5%.

The biggest increase is expected to come from the Asia Pacific region, which is seeing a large increase in disposable income and will need more cars in the next few years.

Europe is expected to remain steady as one of the key players in the market, with its many privately managed motorways and reimbursement charges for towing.

Worldwide, some of the largest companies in the industry are Best Roadside Service, ARC Europe SA, SOS International AS, and AutoVantage.

15. In 2020, towing services made up over 30% of the American roadside assistance market profits.

It’s no surprise that towing is the most profitable segment of the roadside assistance market. Unless something major changes, this is expected to stay the same in the industry for years to come, as there will be no shortage of vehicle breakdowns and crashes.

One factor on the rise that may change this is the rise of AI-assisted and self-driving vehicles, which may eventually lower the number of breakdowns and accidents on the road. However, this shift is not expected to occur soon.

Employee Statistics

16. The average tow truck driver makes $38,555 yearly in the United states.

The amount each driver makes depends greatly on the state. For example, in Washington, the average is $53,068 per year. Other high-paying states include California, Minnesota, and Hawaii.

There are also some relatively low-paying states, which include Kansas, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Part of this is balanced with these states’ relatively low cost of living.

17. 95.6% of tow truck drivers identify as men and 4.4% as women.

Surprisingly, the number of female tow truck drivers has declined in the past few years, down from 5.75% in 2018. In addition, nowadays, 4% of all tow truck drivers identify as LGBT and have an average age of 47.

In terms of ethnicity, the most common is White, at 58.8%, Latino follows at 20.2%, then Black at 11.4%. Other ethnicities make up the remaining 4.8%.

18. The fatality risk for tow truck drivers between 2011 and 2016 is 42.9 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers.

This is 15 times greater risk than workers in other industries. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all other industries had an average rate of only 2.9 per 100,000 full-time employees. 

It’s important to know the risks when getting involved in any industry. As a job that requires most of its time on the road, there’s a greater overall risk of an accident, which accounts for much of the statistics.

Jason L Arthur

Jason L Arthur

Jason Arthur is a data junkie, writer, veteran amateur racecar driver and motorsport photographer. He is the co-founder of LookupaPlate, a collaborative platform to report bad drivers plying on American roads. He is also building a blockchain-based vehicle data marketplace (in stealth mode) and is an adviser to several startups. Jason has been tracking the automotive industry since the 1990s and has a disturbingly deep obsession with the automotive world, and loves to explore whatever roads he can find. From high-speed racing on the circuit to off-road exploration, Jason has an insatiable appetite for adventure. Jason has written for numerous publications, including Autocar Magazine, Motorsport Magazine, and Road & Track.

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