Watch above: The death of a young man fixing a car at the side of a highway over the weekend is prompting warnings from the industry. Wendy Winiewski speaks to a tow truck driver who’s had several close calls and offers tips to other motorists.
SASKATOON – Driving is one of the most dangerous things we do every day. When a vehicle breaks down the danger only increases according to Lynn Scrimshaw. The tow truck driver with Astro Towing has been assisting stranded motorists for 26 years.
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“When people are going past you at a fast speed and they’re only two feet away, it’s quite dangerous,” said Scrimshaw. Over the years, several company vehicles have been hit but Scrimshaw feels he’s been lucky.
“I myself have never been hit. I’ve had a few close calls.”
On Aug. 7, Lloydminster resident Tanner Graf, 22, was killed on Highway 16 near Paynton when he was struck by a semi-truck. Graf, an employee at a local vehicle shop, was dispatched to the call to change a tire for a stranded driver.
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It’s a task Scrimshaw has tackled dozens of times.
“I got to pull that tire out to about here,” said Scrimshaw, motioning toward the space between his body and the wheel well of a vehicle he’s towing. “So if there’s not a big shoulder, the odds are pretty good that my body is going to be partially on the road,” he said.
Lynn Scrimshaw describes space needed to change vehicle tire Brent McGillvray / Global News
Lynn Scrimshaw describes space needed to change vehicle tire
Brent McGillvray / Global News
By law, motorists are required to slow to 60 km/h in several scenarios. RCMP collision reconstructionist, Ryan Case, feels most motorists obey the 60km/h limit but admits some do not.
“Any vehicle that has a flashing light on it … so regardless of the colour of the light be it an amber flashing light, a red flashing light, a blue flashing light or a combination thereof – for emergency vehicles, ambulance, fire trucks, tow trucks … any time there’s anything flashing on the side of the road, it applies to those vehicles,” said Case.
Scrimshaw positions his tow truck as a buffer between him and passing vehicles. He also angles the tires toward the road, not the shoulder, where he’s working. By doing this, if the tow truck is rear ended, it should drive away from him rather than toward him.
He believes part of the onus lies with the driver of the parked vehicle and it’s more extensive than just pulling over. He recommends simple practices like turning on your emergency hazards, pulling over into an approach if possible and popping the hood of your vehicle even if the issue is not related to your motor.
“That way people can see that something is wrong,” Scrimshaw explained.