Alberta lagging behind in roadside safety: AMA

Alberta lagging behind in roadside safety: AMA

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Alberta is trailing the rest of the country in roadside safety and the AMA says the lack of action is putting lives at risk.

The Alberta Motor Association has been lobbying the provincial government for years to make changes which would improve safety for emergency crews like police officers, paramedics, firefighters and tow truck drivers.

Jeff Kasbrick with the AMA said Alberta is the only province in the country whose ‘slow down, move over’ law only applies to the immediate lane of travel.  Confused drivers also slow down in the other lanes.

“That, in and of itself, creates a very serious safety issue where you have these wild variations in speed,” said Kasbrick.  He says some people are legally doing 110 km/h right next to people who have dramatically slowed down.

He said the government could easily change that by requiring everyone to slow down to 60 km/h or less.

“All lanes of travel in the same direction to slow down to 60 kilometres an hour just makes sense, it’s also in alignment with every other province in the country that has a slow down move over law.”

WATCH: Raw video of crash caught on dashcam from a tow truck driver

Kasbrick said drivers are currently supposed to move out of the lane next to an emergency vehicle if they can but it can be dangerous with other cars moving faster.   He said having all lanes slow down would also help with enforcement.

In addition, the AMA continues to call for the province to allow tow trucks to have flashing blue lights in combination with the amber, which he says does a better job attracting attention and improving safety.

“There’s a lot of science behind different colours of lights and also combining different colours together that do a far better job of attracting driver attention than a single colour alone. So we firmly believe that we should be adding blue flashing lights,” said Kasbrick. “It’s far more visible in low light and inclement weather conditions.”

He says Saskatchewan has made that change and it’s proven successful.

Tow companies agree having the blue lights would help, saying drivers often don’t bother slowing down unless there are police on scene.

Jackie Richards with Big Hill Towing in Cochrane, which has had two drivers hit and many other near-misses, wants to see action from the Kenney government to protect those who have to do their job on the side of the road.

“Every time they’re on the side of the highway they are at risk of being hit, of being injured, they’re at risk of being killed, every single call,” said Richards.

“That’s towing companies, that’s ambulances, that’s police – that’s everybody. Are we going far enough? I would say no.”

Richards submitted video to 660NEWS after one of their blocker trucks was hit by a driver who failed to slow down.  The worker, who was there to help protect the tow truck driver just ahead of him, had to jump out of the way.

Big Hill driver Zach Archibald says the yellow lights are not enough.

“For whatever reason they ignore him because there’s no consequences because there’s no police on scene,” said Archibald.

He hasn’t been towing very long but has already had at least one incident where he was nearly killed.

“I had a girl texting and driving on Highway 1 when I was loading a bike and I had to jump out of the way because she was going to hit me.”

Archibald said he wouldn’t be here today if someone hadn’t warned him in time.

He sees dangerous driving behaviour with every call he attends.

“Even though there’s two lanes, they’ll continue to use the lane closest to you. They don’t care, right?” said Archibald.

There’s no indication from the Alberta government as to when the province might make changes to the law.  It will only say it’s actively looking at ways to improve safety.

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