British Columbia

Blue lights could save lives, says tow trucking community

After a tow truck driver was killed while helping a motorist who had struck a deer on the side of the highway near Castlegar, the Automotive Retailers Association of B.C. and the tow trucking community want to see the amber flashing lights on the top of truck, changed to blue.

Advocates renew calls for blue emergency lights after a tow truck driver was struck and killed

After a tow truck driver was killed helping a motorist near Castlegar, the Automotive Retailers Association of B.C. and the tow trucking community want to see the amber flashing lights on the top of truck changed to blue. (CBC)

There are renewed calls for changes to the colours of the flashing emergency lights on tow trucks after the death of a tow truck driver between Castlegar and Trail last weekend.

Wayne Kernachan was struck and killed while helping a motorist who had hit a deer. He was wearing the appropriate safety gear and had his truck's lights flashing at the time. 

Now, the Automotive Retailers Association of B.C. and the tow trucking community is suggesting that flashing blue and white lights may do a better job of catching the eyes of passing drivers. CEO, Ken McCormack, says that people have become desensitized to the amber lights.

"There are laws in B.C. that state any time the motoring public sees flashing lights of any colour they're expected to slow down, move over and follow the rules of the road. Unfortunately that's not happening," McCormack told Chris Walker, host of Daybreak South.

McCormack says that when drivers see blue or red lights, similar to emergency vehicles, they automatically slow down. 

 Stuart Ady — who used to own a towing company in the area —  agrees that drivers don't slow down for the amber flashing lights of a tow truck anymore. 

Ady recalls being in some scary situations on the highways. He says blue and white lights could make a difference. 

"It was like Russian roulette. People wouldn't slow down," he said.

"There's so many vehicles out there with orange lights, from ministries to contractors. And I think orange lights disappear; they don't see them anymore." 

'They need to be recognized'

McCormack says tow trucks often arrive on a scene before first responders, and their safety should be considered.

"It's important for us to stand up for the people that are out there protecting us on on B.C. roads," he said

"They need to be recognized for what they are. They're the people rescuing the motoring public from the side of the road or worse."

Last year, the Automotive Retailers Association of B.C. sent a paper to the Ministry of Public Safety, calling for the changes. The Ministry told the CBC that those changes fall under the Motor Vehicle Act.

With files from David French and Daybreak South

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