Slow Down, Move Over. It's the Law.

June 15, 2020 | CAA Niagara

Pylon marks where car has pulled over on highway.

Slow Down, Move Over. Four simple words, with one goal in mind – to keep our heroes safe.

We all know how unpredictable the roads can be. From weather to potholes and everything in-between, there are countless obstacles that can get in our way while driving. However, when it comes to first responders, we need to do our best to stay out of their way – especially when they are helping someone on the side of the road. Hence the creation of the Move Over Law.

CAA tow truck operators service Members at all hours of the day. CAA Niagara takes this matter very seriously and wants to make sure you’re prepared to slow down, move over when you see first responders along the side of the road.

What is the Move Over Law?

Created in 2003, this law protects first responders while tending to a roadside call. This includes police officers, paramedics, firefighters and tow truck operators (as of 2015).

If an emergency vehicle or tow truck is stopped with its coloured lights flashing in the same direction that you are travelling; you must reduce the speed of your vehicle and proceed with caution. If you are driving on a road that has multiple lanes you are expected to leave a lane of space between you and the emergency vehicle – but only if it is safe to do so.

Additionally, if an emergency vehicle is approaching you from behind with its light flashing, you must pull over to the side of the road, let them pass and can not re-enter traffic until all first responder vehicles have gone by.

The Move Over law is outlined in Section 159 (2,3) of the Highway Traffic Act at here.

How much can I be fined under the Move Over Law?

The first offence for motorists who have failed to comply with this law can receive a fine of $400 to $2,000; three demerit points upon conviction; and a possible suspension of driver’s licence for up to 2 years.

Subsequent offences can result in a fine of $1,000 to $4,000; three demerit points upon conviction; possible jail time (up to six months); and possible suspension of licence for up to 2 years. This applies within a five-year period of the first offence.

Tips for handling emergency vehicles

Fact: Nearly 100 tow truck operators die in North America each year because people did not give them enough room to safely do their job.

The next time you see an emergency vehicle or tow truck helping someone on the roadside, use these tips so they can make it home safe and sound:

Stay alert.

Now is the time to avoid any distractions. Keep your eyes on the road and the noise in your car to a minimum so that you can properly assess the situation. Depending on the severity of the issue, there could be back-up responders en route to the scene - so be on the lookout for them as well.

Remain calm.

The flashing lights ahead are a sign of an on- going situation. Don’t make any sudden movements (braking or switching lanes) just yet though. Other drivers will likely react to the situation at different times – so check your blind spots and use your signal if you plan on moving a lane over.

Be cautious.

Approach any situation involving emergency vehicles or tow trucks with caution. Their work often puts them right in the line of danger. Give them the space they need and maintain a slow speed when passing them.

Know Your Rights

In 2016, CAA unveiled Ontario’s Towing Bill of Rights to provide financial protection to those who are in need of a tow. Understanding your rights is the first line of protection for motorists.

First responders put their lives at risk to save those in need. At the end of the day, they want to go home to their family and friends. Remember, if you see a tow truck operator, fire truck, ambulance or the police on the side of the road, Slow Down and Move Over.

To learn more on CAA Niagara’s road safety initiatives, click here.

Tags: road safety, Community, News

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