Real or Myth: Can You Get a Free Tow Truck in Texas?

At some point, every driver gets stuck on the side of the road (or right in the middle of it, if you’re particularly unlucky). Drivers can find themselves stranded for any number of reasons: running out of gas, having a blowout or flat tire, engine trouble, locking keys in the car, or involvement in a crash. You probably already know that you should pull over to the shoulder or off of the roadway. Stay in your vehicle or otherwise far away from traffic flow. But then what? You’re stuck, and live-Snapping the situation probably won’t get you anything but sympathy emoji.

Call for help if you're stranded on the side of the road
There’s never a good time to be stranded on the side of the road.

Can You Get a Free Tow in Texas?

Simply catching a ride home won’t cut it. You can’t just abandon your car on the side of the road. If the vehicle is undriveable (or potentially unsafe to drive), you will need to get a tow truck to come out and tow it to your home or a nearby repair shop. Towing companies can seem expensive and kind of mysterious if you haven’t ever used their services before. Maybe you’ve heard that a free tow will be provided to you if you’re in need and you call the phone number on the back of your license. Is it too good to be true?

You can't leave a broken down car on the road
Don’t just leave your broken down car in the street.

Sorry, Tow Trucks are Not Free

We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but the free tow truck myth is false. Neither the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) or Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will cover the cost of a tow truck for stranded motorists. The expense falls on the driver or vehicle owner. The cost will probably be at least $50 but can reach into the hundreds if the vehicle must be towed a long distance. Your insurance company may cover the cost of towing if you have a roadside assistance plan or if you’re a member of an auto club. These plans usually work as an annual flat rate that you pay to have roadside assistance if you need it.

The price of a tow truck is usually $50-125
When you find out how much the tow truck costs

The Stranded Motorist Hotline

Like most myths, there’s a little truth to that rumor about calling a number on your license for help. If you look at the back of your driver license, you’ll see a toll-free phone number for “Texas Roadside Assistance.” This number, 800-525-5555, is for reporting a non-emergency need for assistance on Texas roads. If you or anyone else is in danger, call 911 instead! Don’t confuse this phone number with DPS customer service, either. It’s not for questions about your driver license and stuff like that. When you call the Stranded Motorist Hotline, you’ll get in touch with operators at DPS Austin Communications. Be prepared to give the operator the following info: your name, phone number, vehicle location (look for mile markers if you’re on the highway), and vehicle description. The operator will then contact the local police, sheriff’s office, or courtesy patrol to come help you out. The police or Texas Highway Patrol will check your welfare and stay with you until help arrives, but they are not allowed to help you with vehicle repairs, pop locks, carry gasoline, or provide you with a tow truck. They can refer you to a qualified towing company or locksmith, but you have to pay for it yourself.

Call the Stranded Motorist hotline for help
Call the hotline listed on the back of your license for assistance.