Tow truck drivers in Ontario are now playing by new rules.

On Jan. 1, a number of new regulations governing tow trucks in the province came into effect.

Under the new rules, tow truck operators can’t tow or store a vehicle without permission.

They must also accept credit card payments from all their customers, and must disclose their rates in advance.

“There are a number of changes that have come forward to give consumers more power and greater say when they’re using a towing service,” Elliott Silverstein, the Canadian Automobile Association’s manager of government relations, said in an interview.

Al Pinheiro of Kitchener-based Active Towing says he’s happy with the changes, because they create a level playing field for all tow operators.

“It’s like going into a McDonald’s – you know what you’re getting (and) how much it’s going to cost,” he said.

Pinheiro says he’s heard about cases where people had their vehicles towed and then were surprised to find out how much it cost – a practice that is no longer legal.

“In the end, it’ll be a good thing,” he said.

Other new rules include a requirement for drivers of towed vehicles to be given itemized invoices, and for them to be notified about exactly where their vehicle is being taken.

Tow trucks are also now considered commercial vehicles, which means stricter rules around safety inspections.

With reporting by Alexandra Pinto