Move-over law to protect tow truck drivers to be reintroduced
Simcoe North MPP will reintroduce private members bill this month to save tow truck drivers' lives
An MPP from the Orillia area says he's not going to let political delays stop him from fighting for the safety of tow truck drivers.
Garfield Dunlop, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe North, has been working on a private members bill in the legislature that would make it the law for drivers to move over when they see a tow truck on the side of the road, just like we must do for other emergency vehicles.
Two years ago, a tow truck driver from LaSalle, Ont., was hit by a car and killed.
Paul Rocheleau was fixing a flat tire for a customer on a four-lane road in Windsor when he was struck by a passing car.
"Any time you can save lives, why wouldn't you make it law?" said Dunlop.
Rocheleau's boss was Jeff Kwiatkowski, who owns Sandwich West Towing.
"Every time I send one of my drivers out, I'm terrified. If I send them out on a highway ... or even just a busy street in town, I'm terrified," he said. "It's not what my driver does, it's what other people do."
Dunlop's effort to change the law has been met with delays.
A year ago, Dalton McGuinty stepped down as Liberal leader, and when a legislature is prorogued, "everything on the order paper dies," according to Dunlop.
"So we're back to the drawing board," he said.
Paul Rocheleau's brother Frank, who is also a tow truck driver, told CBC News the waiting process is frustrating.
"Everyone is entitled to a safe working environment," he said. "If these guys are on the side of the road and they don't have laws protecting them, they're really not in a safe environment."
Dunlop told CBC News he's planning on reintroducing the bill after winter recess, likely before the end of February.
"I have it all ready to go and to be re-introduced any time," he said.
Dunlop said he hasn't really received much opposition to his bill, with some MPPs even calling him to ask when the bill will move forward again.
"It's good public policy. It should be passed," he said. "It's a no-brainer."
With a spring election looming, there's a very real possibility the bill will once again be delayed.
"But then, it draws attention to something that is needed," said Dunlop. "When that's brought up during election campaigns, it's something you say we're at least working on."
For Kwiatkowski, he's just looking for a little more protection for his drivers.
"We're not looking for any special privileges. We're just looking for legislation saying, 'You have to move over,'" he said.
Such a policy covering emergency vehicles already exists.
In 2006, the OPP issued 763 tickets province wide to drivers who failed to move over for emergency vehicles.
By 2013, that number had more than doubled to 1,799.
The number spiked at 1,847, the year Rocheleau was killed.