Controversy Surrounds Alberta’s Revised “Slow Down” Traffic Rules

Criticism continues to grow from the towing and recovery industry and paramedics regarding Alberta's recent "Slow Down" traffic regulations.

In March 2022, Minister of Transportation Rajan Sawhney announced an amendment to Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act (formerly known as Bill 5). This amendment proposed that drivers must reduce their speed to a minimum of 60 km/h when passing a stopped emergency or roadside worker vehicle, including tow trucks, displaying their flashing lights. This rule was intended to apply to all vehicles travelling on the same side of the road as a stopped emergency or roadside worker vehicle on multi-lane highways, as well as to vehicles travelling in both directions on single-lane highways.

However, in early August 2023, Transportation Minister Devin Dreeshen announced a partial revision. He clarified that the speed limit change would exclusively affect drivers in the lane nearest to the emergency or roadside worker’s vehicle. “Drivers in the lane closest to any roadside worker vehicle 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. Drivers must also move over to the far lane if it’s safe to do so and take reasonable steps to allow other drivers to move over as well.”

It was only during this announcement in early August that the media and groups such as the Alberta Motor Association recognized the altered regulations.

The new roadside worker safety rules apply to all roadside workers, including first responders, tow truck operators, highway maintenance workers, and snowplow operators.

As reported by, the primary concern raised by the towing industry and paramedics revolves around the potential risk of rear-end collisions. They argue that drivers travelling at 60 km/h may be at risk of such collisions when changing lanes due to other drivers travelling nearly twice as fast.

Don Getschel, president of the Towing and Recovery Association of Alberta, voiced these concerns during an NDP news conference in Edmonton, Alberta. He stated, “This creates unnecessary risk for the motoring public and for us as workers on the roadside.”

The 2022 regulations were originally slated to take effect in March 2023 but were postponed. At the time, the government cited the need for a two- to three-month campaign to educate drivers about the changes.

The Alberta government started a $1.5-million media public education campaign in the first week of August, after putting up highway signs in the spring.

To enhance their visibility during roadside incident responses, tow truck operators in Alberta are currently authorized to use blue flashing lights on their trucks in addition to amber ones. This authorization is part of a pilot program in the province that commenced in June 2022.