Vancouver Island tow truck drivers call for improved safety lights on trucks

When Dave LeQuesne, owner of Westshore Towing, got a call Friday afternoon that one of his drivers had been hit by a passing vehicle, he thought the worst.

“My heart kind of dropped because you don’t know,” said LeQuesne.

The driver was hit by a car on Peatt Road in Langford as he was exiting his vehicle. He was taken to hospital with serious injuries but was released later that night. Now the industry wants to see changes.

“We’re trying to get the province to allow tow trucks to have rear-facing red lights,” said LeQuesne.

Currently, tow trucks are mandated by the province to have amber lights on both sides of the vehicle, front and back. Advocates say those amber lights are too commonly used on roadways and drivers are ignoring them.

“We are advocating for the use of a combination of flashing lights, not strobing lights,” said Adrian Scovell, president and CEO of the Automotive Retailers Association. “Likely red and white or yellow and red. Something that says, ‘This is not a traffic cone. This is a human being at work.’”

The Automotive Retailers Association has concerns about the use of strobing lights, saying they could be a distraction to some drivers. Others in the towing industry disagree with that.

“It’s not anything that is unusual in emergency services – those style of lights,” said Don Affleck, owner of Peninsula Towing.

Affleck also wants to see the use of red lights on tow vehicles and at a minimum, rear-facing red lights.

“We’re making our drivers safe. We’re making the people that are in distress safe and primarily we’re making the motoring public safe because now they’re aware of the situation that they are going up on,” said Affleck. “Amber lights, we’re washed out.”

On Monday, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure told CTV News there are no plans to allow tow trucks to use emergency lights.

“In B.C., blue lights are reserved exclusively for law enforcement; red flashing lights are reserved for fire, ambulance and law enforcement,” the ministry said. “There are no plans to include other vehicles.”

The ministry added that all motorists are required to slow down and move over when coming upon flashing lights, regardless of the colour.