Alberta’s Updated Road Laws
Alberta has seen a few shifts in road laws recently, mostly done as an effort to protect first responders and construction workers. In fact, half of those injured or killed during roadside work accidents are actually traffic control or flag persons. Goes to show you that it’s not the laborers working heavy machinery, but the idiot in the sedan going over the speed limit to worry about.
As of September 1, 2023, Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act had changes implemented to this effect to apply to all roadside workers, not just first responders and tow truck drivers. In fancy terms, according to Section 115 of Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act:
“A driver is prohibited/driving carelessly if that driver drives the vehicle “on a highway at a speed greater than 60 kilometers per hour, or the maximum speed limit established or prescribed for that highway (Subsection (2)(t))…whichever is lower, if the vehicle…is traveling on the same side of the highway as a stopped emergency vehicle or tow truck, (Subsection (2)(t), iv) and is passing the stopped emergency vehicle or tow truck when its flashing lamps are operating. (Subsection (2)(t), v)
Subsection (2)(t) does not apply if there are 2 or more traffic lanes for traffic moving in the same direction as the vehicle and there is at least one traffic lane between the driver’s vehicle and the stopped emergency vehicle or tow truck.”
In layman’s terms:
The following apply to: snowplows, highway maintenance workers, emergency vehicles (police, fire, EMS), and tow trucks. When these vehicles are stopped, motorists must;
- Slow down to 60 km/h or the posted speed limit – whichever is lower – in the lane closest to roadside workers and if safe and able, move to the far lane to allow the workers space
- Slow down to 60 km/h or the posted speed limit – whichever is lower – when traveling in the same lane as roadside workers on single lane highways
Failure to comply with these changes can result in fines of $243, demerits, and an additional speed fine. Failing to allow other drivers to also safely move into the far lane in these scenarios may also result in the same fine and demerits.
No Bull Tip! Unsafe passing of snowplows can result in an even higher fine, so remember that this winter!
(Images from https://www.alberta.ca/roadside-worker-safety )
A study released back in 2015 revealed that more than half of Alberta drivers speed through construction zones, resulting in catastrophic injuries and deaths each year. And according to Alberta’s Workers Compensation Board, between 2014 and 2018 there were 2,229 injuries involving roadside workers being struck by a vehicle.
However, this change has been criticized by worker safety advocates and those who work in or in collaboration with roadside workers, such as the president of the Towing & Recovery Association of Alberta, Don Getschel, for not applying to all lanes as previously announced when Bill 5 was passed unanimously with support from all parties. Getschel stated that “[It] just leaves an opportunity to have a secondary collision…If you’re in the number one lane, slowing down, and you move to go into the number two lane and you’re doing 60 km/h and the number two lane is doing 120 km/h, there’s a chance for disaster.”
Others, such as Transportation Minister Devin Dreeshen, said this restriction to one lane made sense. In a statement saying:
“When there’s two or three semis between you and that roadside worker, how is everybody in five lanes going to magically slow down to 60 km/h while you’re passing that roadside worker…[it’s] a common sense change of: if you’re right beside the workers on the side of the road, you’re going 60 km/h or whatever the posted speed limit is, if it’s lower. But in this case, everybody else can go 110 km/h in [the far lanes], but right beside where the workers are working, they’ll go down to 60 km/h.”
What do you think of Alberta’s road safety changes? Do you think they’ll be effective, or do you think wider changes should be implemented?
(Information from Government of Alberta, Government of Canada, Global News, The Edmonton Journal)
We have done our due diligence to present as accurate information as possible as of September 11, 2023. For more in depth information, visit:
Traffic Safety Act and Amendment: