Island tow truck companies push to use different coloured lights after operator struck by vehicle

Island tow truck companies push to use different coloured lights after operator struck by vehicle
WatchAfter a vehicle struck a tow truck operator over the weekend, Island towing companies are saying a simple change in B.C. driving laws could could be the difference between life and death. Kevin Charach has more.

Westshore Towing owner Dave Lequesne knows there are risks in his line of work.

“It is a dangerous job, there’s no way around it,” said Lequesne, whose worked in the industry since 1984.

One of Lequesne’s employees was hospitalized last Friday after being struck by a vehicle while setting up a tow on Peatt Road in Langford.

According to Lequesne, the incident marked the second time the employee had been struck by a vehicle in his career. Although the employee is expected to make a full recovery, Lequesne believes different colour rear lights could have made a difference.

“We’d like to see the province allow tow trucks to have red flashing lights,” he said.

Current B.C. laws restrict tow trucks to amber lights.

“It’s not being seen,” said Lequesne.

Across town, his competition agrees.

“It’s darn right scary,” said Don Affleck, owner of Peninsula Towing.

Both Affleck and Lequesne have used rear red lights in the past, saying the law had been around for decades but was often overlooked until recent years.

“Without them, you’re at risk,” said Affleck, who adds that he’s had several “close calls” on the highway since switching to amber lights. “You’re just washed out with everything else on the road.”

“It works,” said Lequesne, who was forced to remove his red flashing lights earlier this year by the RCMP’s Integrated Road Safety Unit. “We’d still be using it today but we’d been asked to remove them and not use them, or we risk the chance of not being used by our police contracts.”

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said in a statement to CHEK News that red flashing lights are reserved for fire, ambulance and law enforcement and that there are no plans to include other vehicles.

“The ministry reminds motorists of the requirement to slow down and move over whenever coming upon flashing lights – regardless of the colour,” the province said in its statement.

The idea of allowing tow trucks to display different coloured lights has been floated before in British Columbia, but without success.

However, Saskatchewan allows tow trucks the option to display blue lights instead of amber ones. Elsewhere in North America, tow truck drivers in Missouri and Iowa are allowed to display red and blue flashing lights — though Iowa is mulling a bill that prohibits the use of those colours.

Lequesne fears if changes aren’t made, the worst is yet to come and says he’s gained support from drivers and agencies throughout the province. He also says he won’t quit until changes are made to the Motor Vehicle Act.

“If this accident was on the Malahat or on the Trans-Canada Highway on Friday afternoon, you and I would have a different story to tell,” said Lequesne. “The driver wouldn’t have been so lucky.”

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Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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