Saskatoon highway fatality prompts Move Over message

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan — August 12, 2015 — A recent fatal collision on Saskatoon’s Highway 16 is highlighting the importance of the province’s Move Over law.

The tragic death of 22-year-old Lloydminster resident Tanner Graf, struck by a semi while changing a client’s tire on August 7, has tow truck drivers urging motorists to obey the legislation put in place to protect roadside workers.

Astro Towing’s Lynn Scrimshaw told Global News that while he’s never been hit, like so many in his profession he’s had his share of close calls, especially after racking up over two decades of industry experience.

“When people are going past you at a fast speed and they’re only 2 feet away, it’s quite dangerous,” he said in the report, adding that he takes an offensive approach when roadside, using his tow truck as a buffer and angling the tires towards the road so the vehicle will travel away from him if struck from the rear.

Working for Regina-based Provincial Club Towing for 15 years has left Jay Bernat with similar concerns.

“It’s scary out there. You just never know when it’s gonna be your time to get hit, people are in a hurry to get nowhere,” he told News Talk 980, noting that despite his truck’s flashing lights—warning drivers to give him room to work—people don’t slow down. Bernat estimates that only around five percent out of 50 vehicles that pass him do in fact slow down.

“Our operators and our staff who are doing roadside assistance are always in jeopardy,” Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) Saskatchewan’s Christine Niemcyzk added in the report. She says CAA members rallied to extend the law’s protection to tow trucks.

Under the legislation, motorists must reduce their speed to 60km/h and move to an adjacent lane if possible when approaching a parked emergency vehicle with their lights flashing.

“Regardless of the colour of the light, be it an amber flashing light, a red flashing light, a blue flashing light or a combination thereof—for emergency vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks, tow trucks—any time there’s anything flashing on the side of the road, [the law] applies,” RCMP Collision Reconstructionist Ryan Case told Global.

Violators face a minimum fine of $140 and three demerit points.

Even so, Bernat says the majority of drivers still don’t obey the legislation, and that the public needs to open their eyes and take responsibility for the damage they can cause.

“It’s the people out there that are causing the risk. You’re not just putting us at risk, you’re putting yourself at risk,” he told 980.

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