As the result of motorists’ behaviour following a serious accident on Highway 19 earlier this month, the RCMP is reminding the public of the importance of slowing down and moving over when approaching and passing emergency vehicles when they have their emergency lights activated, in order to give emergency workers as much space as possible to complete their duties.
On June 9 the Port McNeill RCMP responded to a serious motor vehicle incident on Highway 19, where a vehicle went off the road and plunged more than 100 feet over the edge of the roadway. The driver and passenger of the vehicle sustained only minor injuries, but the scene drew two tow trucks, and two marked police vehicles, all with flashing emergency lights activated while the vehicle was being placed onto the tow truck.
“As it was a Sunday, there was a decent amount of traffic headed north and south along the highway, and the number of vehicles who did not ‘Slow Down or Move Over’ was considerable,” the detachment stated in a written release.
The Slow Down and Move Over law came into effect in 2009 and was designed to protect emergency services personnel and those they are attempting to assist while on or next to roadways in British Columbia. Drivers must decrease their speed when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle when it is on or beside a roadway and has its lights flashing.
If there are two lanes going in the same direction, drivers must move into the inside lane to pass, if it is safe to do so and a police officer has not directed them to do otherwise.
This legislation applies to drivers passing Police, Fire, Ambulance and towing vehicles, as well as vehicles used by Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) personnel, passenger transportation inspectors, the BC Conservation Officer Service, BC Park Rangers and Special Provincial Constables employed in the Ministry of Forests.
When a driver is approaching or passing a stopped emergency vehicle with flashing lights on a roadway, the BC Motor Vehicle Act Regulations requires drivers traveling in both directions to:
• Drive at no more than 70 km/h where the speed limit is 80 km/h or more; or
• Drive at no more than 40 km/h where the speed limit is less than 80 km/h.
Violators are subject to a fine of $173 and three penalty points for failing to abide by the regulation. Criminal Code charges could also be considered depending on the seriousness of the incident.
Since 2001, more than 40 emergency workers have been killed or seriously injured while helping people on BC roads.
“When you see red, blue, amber or white lights, please Slow Down and Move Over,” the RCMP said. “Failure to do so will result in enforcement action being taken.”