EDMONTON, ALTA. – The Alberta Fire Chiefs Association (AFCA) is voicing disappointment with recent amendments to safety provisions introduced by the provincial government for drivers to reduce speed when passing emergency services attending a scene.
The same amendment also applies to roadside workers and has been praised by Alberta construction stakeholders.
Starting Sept. 1 drivers in the lane closest to any roadside worker stopped at the side of the road with its lights flashing must slow down to 60 km/h or the posted speed limit, whichever is lower, according to the Alberta government.
The AFCA voiced support for the initial legislation, which mandated all drivers in lanes moving in the same direction slow down to a speed of 60 km/h when passing an emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights.
“This stipulation was particularly critical on two-lane highways, where drivers were required to adhere to the same reduced speed in both directions,” an AFCA release said.
The association opposes modifications introduced Aug. 8 by provincial Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors Devin Dreeshen where the amendments apply exclusively to drivers in the lane nearest to roadside emergency services.
“The rationale behind this change is not readily apparent, and it raises concerns about the potential compromise of safety measures that were previously deemed necessary,” an AFCA release said.
The release added AFCA leadership was also concerned about a lack of consultation.
“In light of this modification to the safety provisions of Bill 5, the AFCA respectfully requests access to the study or factual information that informed this change. Our objective is to comprehensively understand the reasoning that led to altering the original legislation and to ensure that any amendments made are aligned with the fundamental goal of preserving lives and prioritizing the safety of emergency responders and the public,” the release said.
Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association (ARHCA) CEO Ronald Glen previously said the new rules would improve safety for roadside workers.
“Worker safety is the top priority of our highway maintenance contractor member companies. While we provide training to employees so they can work safely around traffic, we rely on drivers to do their part to slow and make space for workers and machinery. ARHCA thanks all members of the legislature who supported Bill 5 for their concern for our employees’ lives,” Glen said.