Alberta tow trucks can still let blue lights shine

Alberta snow plows, tow trucks, and highway maintenance vehicles contracted to the province can continue to use optional flashing blue lights for another five years, building on a trial project launched in 2022.

The provincial government continues to assess whether legislative changes are needed to outline the best lighting configurations to make roadside workers more visible.

“The original pilot projects were brought to increase visibility and improve safety of those working on our highways. 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,” Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors Devin Dreeshen said in a press release.

The changes build on other rules under the Traffic Safety Amendment Act, coming into effect Sept. 1, which require drivers to slow down and move over when passing highway workers.

“Adding blue lights on tow trucks has been a simple change with a profound benefit. It has improved visibility and safety on the roadside for our province’s essential tow operators and the Albertans they’re responding to,” said Michelle Chimko, president and CEO of the Alberta Motor Association (AMA).

“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.”

Near misses and added visibility

Alberta tow trucks have recorded 17 serious roadside incidents and at least 39 near misses since December 2019. That’s on top of 128 collisions involving provincially contracted snowplows between March 2019 and March 2021.

In a recent AMA study, 86.9% of respondents said blue flashing lights on a tow truck are more visible than amber lights alone.

All flashing lamps must comply with SAE standards, be controlled from inside the cab, and trigger indicators inside the vehicle that indicate the flashing lights are activated.