Alberta aims to improve safety for roadside workers
By Adam FreillHealth & Safety Roads
Bill 5 will toughen rules to protect all roadside workers and make Alberta’s highways safer.
A proposed change to Alberta’s traffic laws, currently known as Bill 5, or the Traffic Safety Amendment Act, will give similar protection to roadside workers that first responders and tow truck operators currently have under the province’s Traffic Safety Act.
If passed all motorists traveling in the same direction will be required to slow down to at least 60 km/h when passing a stopped roadside worker vehicle with its lights flashing. 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.
“Alberta’s road construction and maintenance industry puts worker safety first. This legislation is greatly appreciated because we need drivers to slow down and do their part to make their highways – our worksites – safe and efficient for all,” said Ron Glen, CEO of Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association.
“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,” added Rajan Sawhney, Alberta’s Minister of Transportation.
In a survey, 92 per cent of respondents supported a requirement of all vehicles to provide one lane of space when passing a roadside worker vehicle when its lights are flashing, and 60 per cent felt that the current passing laws were inadequate.
“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 Alberta Motor Association. “We applaud these changes as an important first step in improving the safety of these essential workers.”
Current fines for passing an emergency vehicle on the side of the road can range from $136 to $826, depending on the speed. If passed the new rules are anticipated to come into effect in spring 2023.