Tow truck drivers and emergency responders from Swift Current gathered to raise awareness for their safety in the second-annual Slow Down and Move Over rally. 

The rally started last year after Courtney Schaefer; a tow truck driver, was killed while working on a highway near Esterhazy.

Cindy Rempel, one of the owners of Low Cost Towing in Swift Current, said that Schaefer's death promoted the need for change.

"That really brought the awareness to not just the towing industry, and SGI, but the public too that something needed to be done," she said. "I think his death was tragic and it affected a lot of people. I think the awareness of everything really stepped up, and everybody wanted to improve the industry in his honour."

The rally saw about 15 vehicles meet west of Swift Current on the Trans-Canada at the Swift Current Weigh Scale and flash their lights to remind people to slow down and move over when passing them.

"Everybody was out on the highway, and the traffic seemed to be slowing down," Rempel said when talking about how the event went. "There were a few vehicles that were going a little fast, but as soon as they realized what's going on, they slowed down."

Rempel said that this year they're hoping to achieve the same success they did last year, as last year's event ended up leading to safety improvements. 

"Last year's event was to try and help with the distinctive lighting for tow trucks, which was a success as we now have distinctive lighting," she said. "We are now allowed to have blue and amber lights on the tow trucks while we're stopped helping someone. If they see a tow truck on the side of the road and see the blue lights going, they know that we're stopped and helping somebody. It's really helped slow down the traffic, and helped people see us at night and helped our guys feel a little safer out there."

Rod Clowater is a tow truck driver for Fountain Tire. He says that since the distinctive lighting was put in place, he has noticed a significant difference. 

"I estimate as soon as we put those blue lights on the tow trucks, almost 50 per cent of the people now are more aware and take a little more precaution," he said. "I noticed that they are slowing down and they are moving over. Before that, it was almost as if they didn't really consider us important enough to move over. As soon as we brought the blue lights on, it's a lot safer out there and it gives us a little more piece of mind so we can concentrate more on the job rather than constantly worrying."

Rempel added that she feels there still needs to be more education to improve safety further.

"There just needs to be a lot more discussion about it," she said. "It's a slow down and move over rally. It's to promote the education part of it. To get people thinking about it, so when they see those flashing lights they need to slow down and move over."

Clowater agreed with Rempel as he said that to improve the safety of tow truck drivers and emergency responders more there needs to be more awareness and education.

"It really should just be common sense," he said. "You see flashing lights, and obviously there is somebody there that is in trouble, and somebody else is there helping them. It's just common sense, move over and slow down."



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