It's been 10 years since Saskatchewan introduced a law that requires drivers to slow to 60 km/h when passing both tow trucks and emergency vehicles, but one Rosthern tow truck operator says he still faces close calls on a daily basis.
Harvey Britton owns a tow truck company and is often called out to help stranded motorists on Highway 11 between Saskatoon and Rosthern. Even though he places cones near where he's operating and turns on his amber lights, Britton says most drivers, including trucking companies, ignore the speed reduction and still fly by at fast speeds, sometimes at 120 km/h
Britton says he will place the stranded motorist in his tow truck while he's getting their vehicle out of the ditch. He says that he can recognize the difference in noise a vehicle makes when it's accelerating or slowing down, and he is prepared to jump out of the way and into the ditch to avoid injury.
He believes that the province needs to educate people more on the law, because a number of operators, including his son, have voiced their concern for their safety, even refusing to head on the highway. Britton says his son told him "I've got a son at home I want to go home to, and I just can't do these calls anymore".
Britton feels like drivers either aren't aware of the law or don't think they will be caught. However, he says tow truck operators are starting to install dashboard cameras, and he has taken video evidence of some close calls to the RCMP, which have led to tickets being issued.
CAA says the province is considering new legislation to allow tow trucks to be outfitted with lights that flash amber and red, but for the time being, slow down to 60 when passing. Britton, who is the Vice President of the Roadside Responders of Saskatchewan, believes the different light colour would make drivers more aware that they're working on the side of the road.
Despite the warnings, Britton says a number of drivers are hit each winter. He says one operator in Rosetown suffered a broken leg a few years ago, and just north of Duck Lake 6 years ago, a driver who cut across the road hit a tow truck driver's vehicle while he was winching, and "the car came so close to him it knocked his hat off".
Britton says he hopes there's never a fatal collision involving a tow truck operator, but "the odds of it happening are pretty great in the next while".