New Law In Effect Today

 

 

This public safety announcement, created by the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund, was aired across Canada in 2006 and is a good reminder of why as of today, June 1, 2009, drivers in British Columbia will be required to slow down and move over when passing emergency vehicles that are parked and have their lights flashing.

New regulations under BC’s Motor Vehicle Act now require motorists to slow down to 40 kms/hr where the speed limit is below 80 kms/hr, and to 70 kms/hr where the speed limit is 80 kms/hr or higher when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle that has its lights flashing, and for the motorist to move over to an adjacent lane if it is safe to do so.

A motorist who fails to adhere to the ‘Slow Down/Move Over’ law will face a fine starting at $148.00 and three licence penalty points.  But it’s really so much more than that.

Close encounters of the speeding vehicle variety are common place among emergency services personnel.  Ask any police officer, paramedic or fire fighter in Vancouver how often motorists do not pay attention to emergency vehicles and you will get a simple answer, “All the time.”  

I’ve had several close encounters myself, even after taking precautions to ensure my safety and the safety of the vehicle I have pulled over.  When conducting a traffic stop I always try to straddle my police vehicle over the line marker, forcing other vehicles coming up from behind to slow down and go into the other lane .  This way I have plenty of room to approach the stopped car without having to worry I will be struck and killed by someone attracted to the flashing lights in much the same way a moth is drawn to a flame. 

Mind you, this strategy does not always work. 

Last year one of our motorcycle officers was struck and severely injured by a passing car when he was out with another motorist.  And not too long before that I lost a perfectly good three-cell mag light after I threw it into the window of a car as the driver tried to erase me off of a road set-up (it was more startled reflex than anything else).  We located the fleeing driver, but my flashlight was never to be seen again.

So please, slow down and give us the room we need to do our jobs safely.

ADDENDUM

In response to a couple of e-mails and phone calls I recieved shortly after making this post, I am adding two videos on what can happen when officers conduct traffic stops and why this new law is so important. 

The officer in the first video suffered non life-threatening injuries, the status of the motorist in the second video is unknown, and the officer in the third video was thinking on his feet.

Video #1

 

Video #2

 

Video #3

 

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