The province has confirmed that there will be a delay in the new legislation governing the passing of road service vehicles.
The new laws were meant to start on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. The changes are a part of the Traffic Safety Amendment Act, which was passed last year and aimed to strengthen safety measures to better protect all first responders and roadside workers on Alberta’s highways.
The new laws will encompass snowplows, highway maintenance vehicles, in addition to emergency vehicles and tow trucks.
When motorists are passing an emergency vehicle, tow truck, or road service vehicle, including a snowplow, that is stopped with flashing lights activated, motorists are required to:
- Slow down to 60 km/h or the posted speed limit, whichever is lower, in all lanes travelling in the same direction on multi-lane highways and roadways.
- Slow down to 60 km/h or the posted speed limit, whichever is lower, when travelling in either direction on single-lane highways and roadways.
"This change gives snowplow operators and roadside maintenance teams the same legislated protection as first responders, tow truck operators and construction crews. Having consistent traffic rules for all roadside workers also reduces confusion for motorists and increases highway safety," the province previously stated
Provincial data shows that there were 128 collisions with highway snowplows between March 2018 and March 2021, while the Alberta Motor Association also reported 25 near misses and 3 serious collisions with their service vehicles between January 2018 and July 2019.
The Airdrie Professional Firefighters Association also took to social media to remind Airdronians of the changes in their social media post earlier this week.
Various local fire departments, including Crossfield and Carstairs, have reminded residents of the coming change. Crossfield's Fire Department posted on their social media, stating that it's important for drivers to understand the new rules.
"Make sure you understand the new rules so you don't get a ticket, and you don't hurt the people working," the fire department stated.
Carstairs Fire Department's social media post stated that nearly four years ago, one of their unit trucks was nearly hit by another motorist while firefighters were attending a collision, underlining the importance of the changes.
"This incident could have had devastating consequences. We always ask that when you see an emergency vehicle with its lights on, please slow down. It takes so little time out of your day, but it keeps us safe so we can go home."
Another local from Beiseker, business owner, Trevor Snyder, was a vocal proponent of Bill 207, the Traffic Safety (Tow Truck Warning Lamps) Amendment Act to allow blue lights on tow trucks that are now in use.
In January 2020, he narrowly escaped tragedy when a semi-trailer ran into the back of his tow truck as he was trying to assist another stranded motorist. The driver of the trailer was killed.
Fines for speeding while passing an emergency vehicle or road service vehicle stopped on the side of the road with flashing lights activated are doubled and can range from $136 to $991, depending on speed. A mandatory court appearance is required for any motorist travelling more than 50km/h over the speed limit.
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