March 7, 2016 9:21 pm
Updated: March 7, 2016 9:31 pm

‘I’ve had close calls’: Tow truck drivers raise roadside safety concerns after near misses

WATCH ABOVE: AMA tow truck drivers are asking Calgary drivers for help. They say drivers are forgetting to slow down and give them room to work. Sarah Offin reports.

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AMA tow truck operators are asking Calgary drivers for help.

They say many are forgetting to slow down and give them room to work while they clear smashed and stranded vehicles from busy roadways.

“It has been happening more lately,” tow truck operator and fleet training coordinator Neal Joad said. “With the warmer weather people are travelling faster… and yeah, we get close calls for sure.”

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Joad recalls a number of recent near misses, including last month, when a tow truck operator narrowly avoided being hit by a passing motorist by jumping in a nearby ditch.

Last October, one of Joad’s coworkers was hit while attending to an accident on Deerfoot Trail near 16 Avenue Northeast. The impact left the victim with life-threatening injuries and the window of the car completely shattered. The tow truck operator only recently returned to work on modified duties.

While Joad has been working for 15 years in the same job without any major injuries so far, he admits he is nervous.

And he’s not alone.

“I’ve had close calls,” Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey with the Calgary Police traffic unit said.

“Every time we get out there’s close calls.”

While it’s dangerous for police, officers admit their red and blue lights help slow traffic. Tow truck drivers working alone don’t have the authority to hand out tickets.

Drivers are required by law to slow to 60 km/h in work zones and while passing any emergency crews, including tow trucks.

Fines double in those instances and can climb to almost $1,000 plus demerits.

While it’s a hefty sum, Joad suggests it’s a welcome reminder – one he hopes may help him and his coworkers return home safely this spring and summer.

 

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