Slow down and move over. That’s the message Lloydminster emergency responders want all drivers to remember.
John Buhnei, owner of Action Towing and Recovery Service, will be spreading the message on March 11 when he and fellow drivers hold an awareness campaign on March 11.
“We’re trying to bring awareness to the motoring public that it’s really dangerous for us working on the side of the highway when they don’t slow down and move over,” Buhnei says.
Tow trucks, police vehicles and other emergency vehicles will be parked outside of Lloydminster on Highway 16 on both sides of the border. One group will be gathering at the roadside turnout on the west side of the city while the other near the turnoff to the Husky refinery from 7 to 8 p.m.
Buhnei says Highway 16 is particularly dangerous because of what he describes as a four-lane mindset.
“On a two-lane highway like 17 we’ve got one lane blocked. We’ve got our flashing lights and people will slow down when they’re going by yet on Highway 16 we can be blocking one lane and people will just go roaring by in the other lane.”
The law requires drivers to slow down to 60 km/h and moving over to the open lane when passing a tow truck. Speeding past them carries stiff penalties including higher fines and extra demerit points. Despite this, Buhnei says, with the laws in place on both sides, they still have people driving past them at high speeds.
“There are still people that do not understand or don’t respect the law or whatever it is they come flying by us at highway speeds.”
“I’ve been towing for a lot of years and had some really close calls, as does every tow truck driver out there, but it’s only from being aware and keeping an eye on traffic that I’ve never been hit. I’ve had my tow truck hit but I’ve always had an escape route,” he adds.
The awareness campaigns were started by the Roadside Responders Association of Saskatchewan in honour of Courtney Schaefer. Schaefer operated a tow truck near Esterhazy and was killed while responding to an accident.
Buhnei says this year’s awareness drive isn’t in connection with the association. The Lloydminster towers are doing it on their own and invite everyone to stop by and talk with them.
“The general public is welcome to stop and pull in and have a coffee and doughnut with us. Stand there on the side of the highway for a few minutes and see what it feels like to have an 18-wheeler flying by or even an SUV flying by.”
The campaign will be held on March 11 from 7 to 8 p.m.