Edmonton tower starts safety petition

By Andrew Ardizzi

Edmonton, Alberta — April 8, 2014 — An Alberta-based tower has started a petition to improve roadside safety for tow truck operators across the province.

” I want to get the word out to everyone to slow down and move over, because we all want to get home safely to our families,” says Cliff Bullis, the architect of the petition and a tow truck operator with Jays Towing Services in Edmonton. “It’s hard to say why some people don’t follow the province’s move over law, maybe they don’t know it exists.”

Move over laws require motorists to slow down on the road when approaching emergency vehicles–police, firefighters, paramedics, towers–and veer towards the opposite side to allow those operators the space to perform their duties safely.

Despite the province employing the move over law, there have been three roadside collisions in 2014 where towers have been hit, in addition to a number of other close calls. While the law is in place, Bullis feels there hasn’t been enough in the way of communication and education about “move over” practices and how drivers need to react when approaching emergency vehicle operators.

“I think towers need to have the respect of drivers so that they’re not getting hit,” Bullis says. “I think there needs to be more enforcement and awareness.”

While Bullis feels it’s important to respect the move over law, part of the issue is that drivers don’t seem to approach towers with the same caution as they would other emergency responders. The amber lights present on the tops of trucks differ from the red and blue lighting combinations on police cars, failing to elicit the same responses from motorists as they approach towers. Bullis feels part of the solution lays in simply adding a second coloured light to complement the existing amber lights, distinguishing themselves from the lighting present on other larger trucks.

“If we can get a different colour of light, that distinguishes us from other emergency vehicles,” he says. “For example, if we were able to use blue, then instantly towers become more visible if the lights are alternating between amber and blue.”

Jeff Thomas, the owner of Jays Towing Services agrees the petition is needed to help raise awareness for tower safety and to encourage drivers to be more aware of their surroundings.

“What I would like to see is for people to see distinct colours, maybe red, recognize towers and take their foot off the gas when they get close,” Thomas says.

With their safety in the balance, both feel it’s imperative to promote road safety and to be mindful of towers who are only out supporting themselves and their families.

“Another colour would definitely help us to start out,” Bullis says. “Our goal is to distinguish tow trucks from every other vehicle on the road.”

Bullis hopes to present the petition to the provincial legislature in the fall, and is hoping to amass 1,000 to 1,500 signatures by his Sept. 30, 2014 deadline. With the deadline still several months away, the petition is already less than 200 signatures away from reaching his goal. Bullis hopes that isn’t the end, though.

“I would really like to see this change happen nationally,” says Bullis. “That would be great!”

For more information on the petition to include towers in Alberta’s move over law, please email Cliff Bullis at c.bullis@live.com.

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