OHS Canada Magazine

Alberta changing traffic laws to require motorists to slow down for roadside workers


(Submitted)

Alberta is proposing changes that would require motorists to slow down when passing a stopped roadside worker vehicle with its lights flashing.

The Traffic Safety Amendment Act will require all motorists traveling in the same direction to slow down to at least 60 km/h.

The proposed changes will also require motorists traveling in the opposite direction on single lane highways to slow down to 60 km/h when passing.

“Roadside workers work in a high-risk environment and deserve the best protection so that they can go home safely to their families at the end of their shift. That’s why, following consultations with the public and stakeholders, Alberta’s government is proposing these changes to protect all those working along our highways,” said Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Transportation

Same rules as first responders, tow-truck operators

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.

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“Near misses and collisions are a regular occurrence for Alberta’s tow truck operators, emergency responders and other roadside workers,” said Michelle Chimko, president and CEO of the Alberta Motor Association.  “We applaud these changes as an important first step in improving the safety of these essential workers and look forward to our continued work in further improving their visibility and safety. We ask all Albertans to take care when passing a roadside scene. Those few extra seconds can make all the difference in keeping someone’s loved one safe.”

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s Government will conduct an educational campaign for all drivers prior to the anticipated enforcement date of spring 2023.
  • About 15,000 Albertans responded to an online survey from March 16 to April 6, 2021:
  • 92 per cent supported requiring all vehicles to provide one lane of space when passing a roadside worker vehicle when its lights are flashing.
  • 60 felt that the current passing laws were inadequate.
  • 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.
  • 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.