Alberta tow truck drivers hope blue lights arrive to improve safety

Alberta tow truck drivers are hoping a new private member’s bill in the legislature will help shed a different light on road safety.

Over the past two and a half years, the AMA alone has reported 36 near misses and 13 serious traffic incidents with its tow fleet.

One of these serious accidents involved Kevin, a man who had been a tow truck driver for 29 years.

“The rubbing of his vehicle on my clothes spun me around three times and I hit the ground behind his vehicle,” he said.

At that time, the dangers of his profession became very real, very quickly.

“Because if I hadn’t seen her, she would have kicked me in the back,” Kevin said. “There’s a good chance I’m not here right now.”

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Oil Country Towing has had one major collision in each of the past 10 years, including one last month on the QE2 side.

“It’s a heartbreaking feeling. My heart skipped a beat,” said company president Don Getschel as he explained his reaction to hearing that one of his team members had been hit.

Fortunately, in this particular accident, the operator was in his vehicle and escaped with minor injuries.

But Getschel said things could easily have been much more serious.

“He was about to get out of the truck to secure his load and double check everything,” he said. “So if it had happened just a minute later, he himself would have been hit.

“We put ourselves in danger to help people when they have a flat tire, when they break down, when they pop a belt in their car. When they need us, we are there for them. But that shouldn’t not be a life-threatening situation.

Getschel is also president of the Towing and Recovery Association of Alberta. He thinks drivers have become complacent when they see amber lights.

For years, he and others in the industry, including the AMA, have asked permission to use blue lights.

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“The flashing blue and amber lights are one of the most effective color combinations, especially in low light and bad weather conditions,” explained Jeff Kasbrick, AMA’s vice president of advocacy and operations. .

READ MORE: Alberta tow truck drivers want blue emergency lights to slow drivers

In 2018, then-Transportation Minister Brian Mason told Global News he was asking staff to look into the matter, after Saskatchewan changed colors.

Mason also expressed concerns about the blue lights already used for law enforcement.

“Blue is of course the color used by the police and we don’t want to cause confusion,” he said.

In the end, no changes were made.

READ MORE: Blue and amber lights now allowed on Saskatchewan tow trucks

But now the advocates have the support of Alberta police chiefs as well as the Alberta Motor Transport Association.

Former police officer turned MP Brad Rutherford introduced the idea of ​​blue lights in a private member’s bill.

“What I’m hoping for is that the blue light is able to alert other motorists of what’s to come and to be aware that someone is about to get out of their vehicle – and that could also be the family at home. side of the road, who is receiving help,” said the provincial deputy for Leduc-Beaumont.

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“The bill has been tabled, it has gone to committee. It will go to second reading in the next process. I think it will receive broad support.

Rutherford said he could not give a timeline on when the second reading might take place.

But Kasbrick just hopes it happens soon.

“We don’t want to go another day without making sure we have this essential protection,” he said.

“Now what we need is the support of our government and the support of our MP to get us over that finish line.”

READ MORE: Alberta tow truck operators urge drivers to slow down and move

In Alberta, drivers must slow to 60 kilometers per hour when meeting a tow truck in an adjacent lane or moving.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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