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Slow for the Tow

Slow for the Tow (#SlowForTheTow) is a social media and public awareness campaign, designed to increase Edmonton motorists’ awareness of passing laws. 

In May 2022, the Edmonton Police Service (EPS)’s Traffic Safety Unit (TSU), in partnership with the Alberta Motor Association (AMA), launched a new pilot project addressing motorists who ignore passing laws as tow truck operators perform their duties along major roadways in Edmonton.

Tow truck operators provide critical roadside services to motorists throughout the province, and its important drivers recognize that their actions on the road can put these essential workers at risk. 

Slow your roll, it’s the law

Over the next six months, TSU will evaluate, educate, and conduct enforcement of motorists who speed past tow trucks while they are providing roadside assistance along high-speed roadways within Edmonton, namely:

  • Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216),
  • Queen Elizabeth (QE) II Highway,
  • Whitemud Drive, and
  • Yellowhead Trail.

When AMA dispatches a towing unit to one of these roadways, AMA’s call centre will contact the EPS’ on-duty Traffic Enforcement Section Sergeant. If available, an enforcement unit(s) will respond to the call.

Traffic volume and speed, among other factors, are significant concerns for tow truck operators when working on high-speed roads. Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act (TSA) requires motorists passing stopped emergency vehicles and tow trucks that have their service lights activated to slow to 60 km/hr. — or to the posted speed limit, whichever is lower. Or if possible, provide one lane of space on multi-lane roadways. Current fines are doubled for drivers failing to do so.

Since December 2019, there have been 14 serious incidents (collision, injury, or death) involving tow trucks in Alberta while assisting a motorist at the roadside and at least 36 near-misses. Current enforcement of this issue is limited to police randomly encountering towing events on high-speed roadways. In 2020, EPS issued 244 tickets to motorists for not slowing down to pass a stopped emergency vehicle or tow truck when its flashing lights were operating.

Sharing is caring

Increasing the awareness of emergency vehicle passing laws is crucial to eliminating serious injuries due to unsafe behaviours on the road.

In Alberta, AMA responds to more than 37,500 high-risk calls (one every 14 minutes), each year. In 2021, AMA responded to 4,023 high-risk calls in the City of Edmonton.

Drivers failing to adhere to emergency vehicle passing laws is a serious problem that extends beyond Edmonton city limits. With the help of AMA, the EPS’ goal is to increase awareness around the issue, educate motorists support safer drivers and roadways in Edmonton, with hopes it will enhance safety for tow truck operators throughout the province.