SASKATOON -- Slavko Hardi has a message for drivers approaching a tow truck working at the side of the road.

“People should engage their brains before they engage their transmission into gear. Even to start travelling you have to think about what can happen. Weather in Saskatchewan can be changed in a moment. One side wind on the highway and there’s ice, perfect conditions for being stuck on the road or even worse.”

On Monday around 4:40 p.m., Hardi was winching a yellow cube van out of the ditch on Highway 16 near Denholm when a semi spun out of control and hit his tow truck.

“Luckily I wasn’t in the truck and I had enough time to react and run for cover and avoid the worst,” said Hardi, owner of Hardi Towing.

He estimates the truck was still travelling at the highway speed limit and hadn’t slowed down to 60 kilometres per hour.

“I just saw a trailer from the distance started whipping behind him, from side to side, and I said ‘this is not going to be good.”

His truck was totalled in the crash.

Hardi said he has also seen people sliding into the ditch while he was assisting other drivers because they didn’t slow down.

“That’s the biggest problem here. People don’t slow down no matter what.”

In March of 2018 a tow-truck operator died during a four vehicle collision near Esterhazy after a blizzard. Dozens of tow-trucks paraded through the town in his honour and to raise awareness around slowing down, which is a message Hardi echoed.

"The roads are getting busier and busier every year and we might see lots more of these accidents if people don't realize that it's so dangerous there," he said.

Failing to slow down when passing a tow-truck or an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing is not only dangerous, but can result in a ticket.

Remaining at highway speed, or what would be 40 kilometres over the speed limit while passing the service vehicle, amounts to a $570 fine and three demerit points.

"We really it owe it to them to give them that respect and slow down and help keep them safe as well as the people they're helping," said Tyler McMurchy, manager of media relations for SGI.

He said in 2019 there were 60 collisions involving emergency vehicles on roadsides in the province. Statistics for collisions involving tow-trucks are not kept.

With files from Kaylyn Whibbs