On Wednesday afternoon, Alberta’s Minister of Transportation Rajan Sawhney announced that there will be an amendment to the Traffic Safety Amendment Act.
The proposed changes will also require motorists travelling in the opposite direction on single-lane highways to slow down to 60 km/h when passing a stopped roadside worker vehicle with its lights flashing.
“These amendments proposed under Bill 5 are part of government’s ongoing efforts to ensure our roads are among the safest in the country,” Minister Sawhney said. “This bill will provide improved safety on our roads and highways for roadside workers and enhance existing safety rules for first responders.”
Proposed changes under Bill 5 will give similar protection to roadside maintenance workers and snowplow operators that first responders and tow truck operators currently have under the Traffic Safety Act. Currently, motorists are required to slow down to 60 km/h, or the speed limit, whichever is lower, in the adjacent lane when passing an emergency vehicle or tow truck with its flashing lights activated.
“These changes are what Albertans have asked for, and will make our roads safer for those who work on and near them,” he said. “To ensure Albertans and law enforcement are informed and have time to prepare for these changes, Government will undertake an educational campaign for all drivers in the province prior to the anticipated enforcement date in spring 2023.”
Current fines for passing an emergency vehicle on the side of the road can range from $136 to $826, depending on the speed. Between March 2018 and March 2021, there were 128 collisions involving snowplows contracted by Alberta Transportation.
“Every year, there are dozens of collisions and near misses with snowplows on our roads and highways. Highway maintenance workers also face considerable risk when they work to keep our roads safe and clear throughout the year,” said Minister Sawhney. “
On Thursday, March 10th, police vehicles, emergency service vehicles, alongside fire trucks and tow trucks were parked on the shoulder as a visual reminder to all motorists of the risks they face when working on roads.
The Alberta Motor Association reported that since December 2019, there have been 36 near misses and at least 13 serious roadside incidents involving Alberta tow trucks and passing vehicles ‒ collisions resulting in injury, hospitalization and even death.
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