Slow down, move over: new campaign dedicated to safety of roadside workers

(Herald file photo)

Seeing flashing lights on the side of the highway should trigger slowing to 60 km/h and moving to the left lane, but that’s not always the case.

The Canadian Automobile Association’s (CAA) Slow Down Move Over Day is a new national campaign on May 14 drawing attention to the safety of roadside workers.

CAA Saskatchewan and the provincial government hosted a media event for the campaign at the Legislature in Regina on Tuesday morning.

Roadside workers include tow truck drivers, construction crews, law enforcement officers and first responders such as paramedics and firefighters.

“Talk to a tow truck operator or any police officer who’s stopped on the side of the highway, or any paramedic or firefighter who’s responded to a highway collision scene,” said Minister Responsible for SGI, Joe Hargrave. “Some will tell you about attending a collision scene and then being involved in a collision themselves. That’s completely unacceptable.”

Slow Down Move Over Day draws attention specifically to the safety of tow truck operators.

It wasn’t until 2007 that tow trucks were added to the list of vehicles that you must slow down to 60 km/h while passing.

Two years ago, Saskatchewan became the first in Canada to make all tow trucks and roadside assistance vehicles have both amber and blue lights. Previously, they were just amber.

The hope was that it would make them more visible to oncoming traffic.

Hargrave explained that this was at the request of the industry after the 2017 death of Courtney Schaefer.

He was a tow truck driver who was killed while responding to a call near Esterhazy.

Schaefer was one of nearly 100 tow truck drivers who are killed every year in North America because of being struck by oncoming traffic.

“This campaign is very timely,” said Steve Skoworodko with Paramedic Services Chiefs of Saskatchewan.

“I think sometimes it just has to do with the nature of today’s world. We can feel busy and rushed a lot of times,” added Rick Bourassa with the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police.

“Compromising someone else’s safety because of our particularly busy schedules just can’t be justified.”

The campaign’s video features tow truck operator Greg McCracken showing concern for his safety.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Steve Skoworodko as the president of the Saskatchewan Paramedics Association. Skoworodko is with Paramedic Services Chiefs of Saskatchewan. The Prince Albert Daily Herald apologizes for the error.