OHS Canada Magazine

Alberta extends pilot project to allow flashing blue lights on snowplows, tow trucks and highway maintenance vehicles

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April 17, 2023
By OHS Canada

Legislation alberta Blue Lights Highway Safety Road Safety Snowplow Tow Trucks

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Alberta is extending a pilot project that allows the use of flashing blue lights on snowplows, tow trucks and highway maintenance vehicles contracted to the province to increase their visibility and safety while working on highways.

The province initiated a small trial in 2022 and, based on feedback, is extending the exemption for another five years.

“The original pilot projects were brought to increase visibility and improve safety of those working on our highways,” said Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors. “We are extending these projects to make sure these important safety measures remain in place so those who work on our highways can go home safely to their families at the end of their shifts.”

These changes are in addition to new rules under the Traffic Safety Amendment Act, which come into effect Sept. 1, requiring drivers to slow down and move over when passing highway workers.

With the extension of the project, Alberta’s government is continuing to assess whether legislative changes are needed to outline optimal light configurations to improve the visibility and safety of roadside workers, it said.


“Adding blue lights on tow trucks has been a simple change with a profound benefit,” said Michelle Chimko, president and CEO of the Alberta Motor Association (AMA). “It has improved visibility and safety on the roadside for our province’s essential tow operators and the Albertans they’re responding to. We’re grateful for this five-year extension, which provides ongoing certainty to Alberta’s tow operators as we work towards making this well-proven change a permanent reality.”

Since December 2019, there have been 17 serious roadside incidents and at least 39 near misses involving Alberta tow trucks and passing vehicles, the province said. Between March 2018 and March 2021, there were 128 collisions involving snowplows contracted by Alberta Transportation.

A recent AMA study indicates that of those who have seen blue flashing lights in use on a tow truck, there was 86.9 percent agreement that they are more visible than amber alone.

The registrar’s exemptions include conditions for users, including:

  • All flashing lamps must be compliant with the Society of Automotive Engineers standards.
  • Flashing lamps must be controlled from inside the vehicle cab and vehicles must be equipped with an indicator inside the vehicle that can be seen by the driver to indicate that the flashing lamps are on.


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