Tow truck drivers unite for safety awareness

By Clark Stork
March 8, 2018 - 2:00pm

Tow truck operators across Saskatchewan are reminding motorists the to slow to 60 km/h when they see a tow truck's lights.

Following the tragic death of driver Courtney Schaefer last March near Esterhazy, his colleagues rallied to raise awareness for safety within the industry. The Roadside Responders Association of Saskatchewan launched an annual event to remind drivers that tow trucks fall under the same "slow to 60" laws as police, ambulances and fire trucks. The second annual rally was held at various locations across the province Wednesday, including a gathering south of Melfort on Highway 6. William Smart, a driver with Melfort Towing, said tow truck operators face dangers with every call.

“If you are on the road and you break down you are bringing us back on the road," Smart said. "I’ve been to calls where you can’t see three feet in front of the truck, and now we have to go find them and pick them up."

Saskatchewan was the first province to equip tow trucks with flashing blue and amber lights, in order to make them more visible on roadways. Smart said drivers just want the public to be aware, so tragedies can be avoided.

“If you see us working, please slow down, move over, and give us room,” he said. “We lost a former member last year, and there is no need for that. We want to make it home to our families.”

Events were held in Weyburn, Langenburg, Balcarres, Meadow Lake, Shaunavon, Leader, Prince Albert, Swift Current and several other locations. Brad Stratychuk, president of the Roadside Responders Association of Saskatchewan, said the awareness campaign has been effective.

“People have been fantastic in recognizing the danger and applauding us for reminding everybody that this is a real danger,” Stratychuk said.

With over 35 years in the industry, Stratychuk related the slow to 60 km/h law to driving with headlights on or wearing a seatbelt. He said the number of drivers who don't slow down is on the decline.

“I still get out in the truck quite a bit, I have seen a huge improvement, it’s working, people are getting in the habit.”

 

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