After a several-month delay, the province has announced that starting on September 1 there will be changes when it comes to driving on Alberta roads.
According to the province, drivers in the lane closest to any roadside worker vehicle stopped at the side of the road with its lights flashing must slow down to 60 km/h or the posted speed limit, whichever is lower. Drivers must also move over to the far lane if it’s safe to do so and take reasonable steps to allow other drivers to move over as well.
The new roadside worker safety rules will apply to all roadside workers, including first responders, tow truck operators, highway maintenance workers and snowplow operators. Currently, only tow truck drivers and first responders are protected under the Traffic Safety Act, but now all roadside workers stopped on the side of the road, with their flashing lights activated, will be covered by these protections.
In a press release, the province underlined that in order to help enforce these changes, fines and demerits will be applied for unsafe behaviours when passing roadside workers and snowplows. Failure to comply with these rules can result in a fine and three demerit points:
$243 and three demerit points for failing to slow down to the maximum speed limit when passing stopped roadside workers.
$243 fine and three demerit points for failing to allow other drivers to move into a traffic lane farther from a stopped emergency vehicle, tow truck or roadside work vehicle.
A fine of $324 and three demerit points for unsafe passing of snowplows.
“The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police (AACP) is committed to road safety for all Albertans. This initiative of Transportation and Economic Corridors is another step towards enhancing these goals. We look forward to working with the ministry and other partners to further the work of keeping Albertans safe on our roadways," said Leticia Aplin, executive director, of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police
Statistics provided by the province show that during the winter of 2022-23, there were 37 collisions involving a government-contracted snowplow. Between March 2018 and March 2021, there were approximately 130 collisions involving snowplows contracted by Transportation and Economic Corridors.
Previously, the province was meant to enact the new laws in Spring 2023, but according to Press Secretary for Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors, Jesse Furber, the decision to delay was made in order to allow for thorough public engagement, including working with industry partners.