Alberta towing company owner renews call for blue lights after driver’s close call on Highway 16

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After a collision sent one of his tow truck drivers to the hospital on Thursday, the owner of a towing business west of Edmonton is renewing his call for blue and amber lights to be allowed on highways. roadside assistance vehicles in Alberta.

Gregg Wilson is owner of APL Towing & Recovery, based in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain.

He said one of his employees was on Highway 16 near Range Road 22 to pick up a vehicle from a median and pulled over to the shoulder with his headlights on to await the arrival of a blocking unit.

While he waited, another driver entered his vehicle.

The tow truck driver was sent to hospital and is now at home, expected to make a full recovery. Both vehicles were badly damaged.

Stories like this are all too common, Wilson told CBC News Friday morning. Just last week there was a less serious but similar incident with another company driver.

“We don’t go a day without incident or without incident,” he said.

Wilson said the blue and orange lights on the tow trucks could make them more visible to drivers at night, as the unique color combination would stand out.

He said he and his business partner had raised the issue with policymakers, but had yet to act and appeared in no rush to do so.

Another driver hit this tow truck on the shoulder of Highway 16 on Thursday. The tow truck business owner says the blue and amber lights, which are currently not permitted for roadside vehicles, could have made it more visible in the dark. (Submitted by Gregg Wilson)

Two years ago, an Alberta petition supporting the idea attracted more than 11,000 signatures.

In 2017, Saskatchewan became the first province to allow two-color combination lighting for tow trucks. The change in legislation follows the death of a tow truck driver who was killed in a roadside collision during a blizzard.

In an interview with CBC Active radio in March, Jeff Kasbrick, vice president of government and stakeholder relations for the Alberta Motor Association, said research shows that blue and amber are the most effective color combination for alerting and attracting the attention of motorists.

The AMA, which responds to a high-risk call every 14 minutes, has been lobbying the Alberta government to allow the lights for three years.

“We deploy security blocking units, we have visible clothing, reflective cones, ongoing training and despite all of this, it is very clear from our lived experience that there is still much to be done,” Kasbrick said.

Only police vehicles are currently allowed to use blue lights in Alberta, but Kasbrick said they are already used on snow plows in other Canadian and US jurisdictions.

“So we would by no means be a frontrunner in that regard in Alberta,” he said.

Rob Williams, press secretary to Alberta’s transportation minister, said the government has partnered with the University of Alberta to conduct research on improving roadside crew safety.

He said their report is expected early in the new year.


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