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Drivers required to slow to 60 km/h passing snow plows on Alberta highways, too, starting Sept. 1


The Alberta government is making changes to new rules about passing roadside workers before they take effect next month. 

Starting Sept. 1, drivers in the lane closest to a roadside worker vehicle – of any kind – with flashing lights must slow to 60 km/h or the posted speed limit if that's slower. 

Currently, the Traffic Safety Act only requires drivers to slow while passing tow truck drivers and first responders, not maintenance workers like snow plow operators. During last winter, government-contracted snow plows were involved in 37 collisions. In the three previous years, that type of crash numbered 130. 

The government on Tuesday launched a public education campaign about the changes. 

"Right now, you as a driver, you have to say: Who is on the side of the road and what are they doing? Are they a roadside maintenance, are they a tow truck driver, are they an ambulance? While you're driving 110 down the highway, too," commented Devin Dreeshen, Alberta's transportation minister, at a news conference in Sherwood Park. 

He said the change both simplifies the rule and makes it more inclusive. 

"Obviously, Albertans, we're all equal so we should have the roadside workers, whether it's a policeman or a maintenance worker." 

The rule applies to all highways, including those under municipal management, such as Edmonton's Whitemud Drive. 


Representatives from the Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association and Volker Stevin, which hosted the government news conference, spoke after Dreeshen in support of the legislation. 

However, the event was originally scheduled to be hosted by the Alberta Motor Association – until, AMA said, it learned "very recently" the government had altered the legislation that received royal assentin March 2022. 

At that time, the legislation required drivers in all lanes to slow to 60 km/h

The Alberta government reaffirmed its commitment to this version of the rule as recently as this spring, AMA told CTV news Edmonton. 

"It is bittersweet. We certainly do welcome that expansion and inclusion of additional roadside workers, but again we really wish we were welcoming them into a framework as to what was committed to," AMA spokesperson Jeff Kasbrick said of the rule that was unveiled Tuesday. 

Both he and the president of the Towing and Recovery Association of Alberta said the last-minute tweak is potentially less safe than what had been agreed upon. 

"This partial change is only going to create unsafe scenarios for motorists that are moving over as required by law to be potentially struck by a motorist traveling highway speeds 100km/h or higher in the adjacent lane," Don Getschel told CTV News Edmonton in a statement, adding the government has not provided any data to support its decision. 

"If we are having vehicles slow down and move over, they need to be moving over into lanes that are not going at full speed so that we aren't creating significant speed differentials," Kasbrick added. 

"Slow down and move over," he said, emphasizing the "and." 

"There is nothing simpler than understanding that very precise and crisp message." 

Dreeshen defended the revision as a "common-sense change" that was easier for drivers to remember and safer. 

"We've seen the studies and stats that show when you have the disruption of flow of traffic – so whenever you're decreasing or increasing – that's always the most dangerous situation on a road. So a free-flowing continuous flow of traffic at the same speed is the safest."

Getschel said the towing association has not seen this data. 

Failing to slow to 60 km/h while passing a roadside vehicle with activated lights, or to allow other drivers to move into a lane farther away from the stopped vehicle, will cost a driver $243 as well as three demerits. 

Unsafely passing a snow plow comes with a $324 fine, as well as three lost demerit points. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson Top Stories

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