They come out to rescue stranded drivers rain or shine, start our vehicle, unlock our doors and we count on them to open our roads when major incidents happen.
So, do tow trucks, as a classified emergency response vehicle, deserve the same attention and protection first responder vehicles, such as fire trucks, ambulances, or police vehicles get?
Many local tow operators are joining together and calling for new safety legislation.
They would like to see some tow trucks allowed an alternate colour of light on their beacons and better enforcement of the slow-down and move-over law.
Brad MacMillan a local deck operator with City Wide Towing in the Foothills says he and his co-workers have had too many incidents and close calls last year, something needs to change.
“We’ve had several incidents just in Calgary and the area, we had one tow truck hit out by Chestermere which resulted in a fatality.” MacMillan adds “There was an A.M.A driver that got hit on Deerfoot and Memorial Dr. That same night there was a collision with a BMW and another A.M.A truck.”
This coming after the most recent incident a tow operator in Leduc was doing a recovery on the side of a highway where he was hit twice, thrown up into the air and thankfully he survived, but he broke both of his femurs in the incident. The company he worked for – Vintage Towing – says if he was standing on the other side of his tow truck, the outcome would have been devastating.
MacMillan says most tow operators are only looking for a change in the colour of the lights that sit in their beacons. He thinks that drivers have become desensitized by the current amber lights due to high usage in other road industries.
“Right now we have lots of plows on the road. They have amber and red lights, however you also have the landscapers that are plowing and removing snow from parking lots they have amber lights, and they’re on all the time. Then you have wide loads and the construction crews on the side of the roads, they’re all amber lights.”
MacMillan feels that the difference between tow operators and other road industries is that tow operators have little to no protection while they work, unlike other industries.
“In industries like construction, they typically have a lot more safeguards in place. They have their barriers set up, usually concrete ones, and they’re allowed to block off however many lanes to keep their workers safe.”
Many operators and companies try to avidly promote the “slow down move over” law but it’s just not getting through to drivers with an increased number of incidents and close calls like the one on Highway 1 for MacMillan. “I was working in the shoulder recovering a broken down vehicle, and a car came so close to me, that I had no choice but to jump on my deck and while doing that the vehicle actually scuffed my foot.” MacMillan says “If I hadn’t have seen the car coming, I would have been hit and pinned between my truck and his car.”
It’s actions like this that cause unease in the towing community. Leading to members writing their M.L.As and M.Ps of their area, but are frustrated with their concerns falling on deaf ears.