IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the AUMA advocate to the Government of Alberta to amend the Vehicle Equipment Regulation of the Traffic Safety Act to allow towing and recovery operators to use blue strobe lights alone or in conjunction with white and/or amber lights when tow trucks are working.
WHEREAS Traffic safety is a significant responsibility for Alberta municipalities;
WHEREAS towing and recovery is a highly dangerous occupation; and
WHEREAS visibility of tow truck operations can be a traffic safety concern on Alberta roadways.
Operating a tow truck on busy highways is a dangerous occupation. Towing and recovery is a high-risk industry sector characterized by a unique combination of workplace hazards. The Alberta Motor Association says it sends an operator into a high-risk situation every 14 minutes.
At present, in Alberta, tow trucks are only allowed to have amber flashing lights, which is the same colour used for moving farm equipment, slow moving vehicles, delivery vehicles and on road signs. Amber lights are so commonplace that they are no longer effective in this type of hazardous environment.
On the evening of January 22, 2020, a tow truck from Beiseker Towing was operating on the QEII near Innisfail. The tow truck operator was working as safely as possible with the amber strobe lights flashing and wearing high visibility clothing. A semi hit the tow truck and burst into flames. The semi driver was killed. Fortunately, the tow truck operator was not in his truck at the time. The tow truck was destroyed and parts of it were strewn all over the highway.
In March 2017, a Saskatchewan tow truck operator was killed while assisting a stranded motorist. The incident occurred at night in blizzard conditions. In response to the incident and after hearing the testimonies of 100s operators across the province the Saskatchewan legislature passed Bill 65 – The Traffic Safety Amendment Act 2017 – to allow tow truck operators to display flashing blue lights at the scene in addition to amber. The Bill passed all three readings on April 6th, 2017.
Towing and recovery operators are primary responders to the scene of an accident or distressed motorist and they often operate in conditions different from other roadside work zones. Unlike other roadside work zones (e.g. construction, landscaping, etc.) towing and recovery operators are called to assist stranded motorists at all times of the day and night, and in all weather conditions. Long-or-short-term recovery operations that utilize added control measures such as traffic cones or traffic control persons may still place an operator at risk depending upon position of disabled vehicle, visibility, and other road and environmental conditions. (1)
Therefore, we ask the AUMA to urge the Government of Alberta to implement legislation to allow towing and recovery vehicles to be equipped with blue, white, or both, flashing lamps visible from all directions in addition to amber. Allowing tow trucks to display a unique combination of flashing lamps will contribute significantly to operator safety as well as maintain workplace consistency across the country.
- Excerpt from ARA (AUTOMOTIVE RETAILERS ASSOCIATION) POSITION PAPER 2018-01-02)