Road safety initiative to take place on Deerfoot Trail
Emergency vehicles, including a number of tow trucks, will be participating in an event on Deerfoot Trail aimed at promoting traffic safety in memory of a man killed in 2017.
Between 7 and 8 p.m. on Thursday, a group of emergency vehicles will be parked in the shoulder lanes of the highway in both directions near the exit to Glenmore Trail.
Officials say they hope the event will help teach drivers to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles.
This year's partnership between tow truck drivers, first responders, road maintenance crews and the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund is the sixth time for the campaign.
REMEMBERING A LOVED ONE
It began in memory of Courtney Schaefer, a tow truck driver who was killed near Esterhazy, Sask., on March 7, 2017.
"He was a good man, he had a big heart," said his widow Kim Schaefer to CTV News on Thursday.
Courtney Schaefer, a tow truck driver killed near Esterhazy, Sask., on March 7, 2017
She is speaking out reminding drivers of how crucial it is to follow traffic safety laws for the sake of everyone.
"When you don't slow down obviously you are taking that person away from their family and you want everybody to be home safe," said Schaefer.
Other tow truck drivers say it's a close knit community and honouring Schaefer's memory with this initiative is very important to them.
"It can be quite terrifying for an operator or any motorist that's outside their vehicle or changing a tire on their own with cars whipping by at 100 km or 110 km an hour," said Jeff Hribnak, operations manager for City Wide Towing.
Police say the event is tailored to teach drivers about the dangers roadside workers face every day.
"Everyone deserves to head home from work at the end of each day, including those working on our roadways, whether that is for emergency response or roadside service," said Sgt. Aaron Bridge with the CPS traffic unit in a release.
A spokesperson for the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund, which was created to help improve workplace safety for first responders, says many emergency workers know the pain of loss from workplace incidents.
"We need drivers to slow down and give first responders room to work; they don't dictate where the emergencies occur," said the fund's chair Cliff O'Brien in a statement.
"Our goal is to have everyone make it home safely to their families at the end of every shift."
Bridge adds all drivers have a duty to ensuring the safety of others on the road, including those who aren't in vehicles.
"Slow down, move over, and watch for emergency and road service vehicles with flashing lights," he said.
According to current rules, when any emergency vehicle, tow truck or road service vehicle, including a snow plow, is stopped at the side of the road with its lights activated, drivers must slow down to 60 km/h or the posted speed limit – whichever is lower – in the adjacent lane.
Officials say any driver who doesn't follow the regulation is breaking the law.
"Fines for speeding while passing an emergency vehicle or road service vehicle while stopped on the side of the road with the flashing lights activated are doubled, and can range from $136 to $991, depending on speed," police said.
Proposed changes have been passed by the Alberta government to require drivers in all lanes slow down when passing roadside incidents, however the implementation of the rule was delayed earlier this month.
The Calgary Police Service said it's hoped the amendment would change the way drivers think when they approach roadside incidents.
"(It's) a significant change – it's a better indicator for all drivers that there is something occurring on the side of the road," said Staff Sgt. Rob Patterson with the CPS traffic unit last month.
The Smith government says it will roll out a two to three-month public education campaign about the change before it officially comes into effect for the fall/winter driving season.