Imagine narrowly being sideswiped by a vehicle speeding down the highway when you’re outside of your vehicle on the side of the road. That’s something that many tow truck drivers don’t have to imagine. It’s a hazard that has become part of the job.
On June 10th the province of Alberta announced that tow truck operators will be allowed to use blue lights in order to increase visibility and safety while working on highways.
Chris from Classic Towing & Equipment Hauling Ltd, in Strathmore says he’s experienced his share of near misses, and says adding the blue lights is a good change.
“All the time. I think it should have been implemented a long time ago,” he said.
Chris noted that the change in light color will help to catch the eyes of drivers, but just like amber lights eventually drivers wont notice the difference.
“You're going to go right back to the same effects where people won't slow down, they won't move over.”
He explained that only yesterday when he was working on the highway and there were police on scene, some drivers were not changing lanes to give the police and tow trucks room.
“Even with the cops there people were almost clipping the cop car before they're changing lanes and that was red and blue lights."
“They don’t really understand, that’s the problem. The people, through all the driver training the new kids coming in, they're not trained well enough on the whole. You have to slow down and you have to move over.”
Chris says it all comes down to the drivers behind the wheel and if they’re paying attention, understand that they have to move over and if they ultimately care about the well-being of tow truck operators and others on the side of the highway.
Chris believes the blue light pilot project is a good idea, but he brings up another issue, the cost.
Adding good quality lights could cost an operator about $300 for a light or even $2000 for a light bar.
“Some of these other little companies out there, they might not be able to afford that,” he said.
On April 28, Bill 207 the Traffic Safety (Tow Truck Warning Lamps) Amendment Act to allow blue lights on tow trucks was introduced in the Alberta legislature.
The blue light pilot project will last for one year and begin on June 30th. There’s a chance that snowplows may be added to the pilot project in the fall. Since December 2019, the Alberta Motor Association reports there have been at least 36 near misses and 14 serious roadside incidents involving Alberta tow trucks and passing vehicles.
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