Two Approaches for Towing Signs: Aggressive or Friendly

Towing a car is a traumatic experience. Parking lot managers know this. Towing signs, as a result, can be incredibly effective.
Tow away stories evoke passionate discussions from people involved. People love to chronicle and commiserate over towing horror stories in person and on the Internet. One tempestuous incident occurred in Arlington, Virginia, where a couple of tow operators and a driver got into a heated argument. The driver was at a shopping center and left to drop off boxes at a center, parked behind a couple of parked cars, and had a friend watch over it. Two minutes later, a tow truck arrived to tow it, the driver got in the car while it was starting to tow, and a ten minute standoff ensued. In the end people called the police, and the car was towed.
In many cases, enforcers have done their best to provide towing signs as warnings. At Ocean Beach in San Diego, California, officials are adamant at keeping the block clear for a farmer’s market. After 2:30 p.m., towing companies are vigilant about loading away vehicles to make room for the market, with towing expenses as high as $300. Ocean Beach residents have complained that the towing signs aren’t visible enough in order for them to heed the warnings. However, the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association posts temporary signs the morning of the market to remind people to move their cars. In addition, the market manager walks around with a megaphone to remind people to remove their cars.
The Friendly Approach--Tow Signs: Since not every parking facility has people with megaphones, towing signs are the next best thing. Most people are familiar with standard Private Parking Signs, but as always there are pleasant surprises. Designer and blogger Nathan Zeldes studies different types of product design including noteworthy signs. Zeldes featured a blog post about a No Parking Sign he found in Jerusalem. He wrote that the usual No Parking Signs are design to “jar and scare the thoughtless driver” but was charmed by one he found on the wall of a house next to its private parking sign. It featured on white with a rose in the middle and placed right above a bed of geraniums. The script read, “Private Parking—Unauthorized Vehicles Will Be Towed” but the rose softened the message and put Zeldes in a "cheerful mood." In some cases, this softer approach works-and you do not have to compromise your belief structure that "goodness wins out."
The Aggressive Approach-Tow Signs With Teeth: Of course, others are more hostile and correspond more to the grievance of towing. The “Don’t Even Think of Parking Here” signs for towing can be found in New York City and Chicago. This sign was created to help ease the traffic congestion in these cities.
The most commonly seen towing signs are the standard red, white, and black No Parking Signs. These signs declare that in the marked areas, No Parking is permitted and will be towed at the owner’s expense. The signs list the towing company for the driver to find their removed vehicle. Regardless of the way towing signs are presented, having your car towed is always unpleasant. Official or harsh signs certainly get the message across effectively. However, sometimes having friendlier towing signs softens the blow.

Carrot or Stick?

Which No Parking Sign philosophy do you follow? Click here to see a larger version of this chart.
Church Parking SignsChurch Parking Signs
Tenant Parking Only Tow Signs
This Tow Away sign is meant to scare illegal parkers. The tow company even takes your credit card.
Church Parking SignsChurch Parking Signs
Humor sometimes softens your tow away message.