Slow down and move over.
That’s the message from not only police, but first responders, tow truck operators and highway maintenance crews, as summer road travel kicks into high gear.
“ … When a vehicle goes whizzing by you at 120 km/hr and blows your jacket off you, or your hat off you, and they’re only a foot and a half away from you, the chances if they make a small error and they clip you, it could be catastrophic,” said RCMP Const. Chris Mousseau, a member of North Island Traffic Services.
Mousseau noted Monday he wants to remind drivers that regardless of the type of emergency vehicle – fire truck, police car, tow truck or road crew, which have flashing red, blue or yellow lights – the law requires drivers slow their speed significantly and move over if safe to do so.
According to the BC Motor Vehicle Act, the 70/40 rule applies: where the speed limit is 80 km/h or higher, drivers must slow to 70 km/h near emergency vehicles; where the limit is below 80 km/h, drivers must reduce their speed to 40 km/h.
According to police, in a 10-year period, 235 roadside workers have been injured and 15 have been killed.
“It’s been at least four years since it’s been law,” added Mousseau. “A lot of people aren’t aware of it.”
He added drivers have to be aware there are other people on the roads, and emergency services personnel are trying to do their job to make both the community and roads safer.
Jeff Smith, who performs road maintenance for Emcon Services, said he and his team are having more close calls with vehicles, and added despite lights and signage, drivers are still not obeying the law.
“People are distracted by cell phones, by their music. A big thing … people are telling us, is why we’re slowing them down. It’s a work zone, you have to slow down. If you have to ask that, you shouldn’t be driving, basically, is how I look at it. It’s getting worse, it’s not getting any better.”
Cumberland Fire Chief Mike Williamson agrees.
He noted the problem gets worse in inclement weather, and the department has even taken the steps to place a firetruck in front of their crew if attending an incident on the roadway just in case something happens.
“ …. We sometimes have to have a spotter … because we’ve had cars go out of control in the other lane spinning towards us. I’ve seen police cars get hit, I’ve seen firetrucks get hit, you name it, it happens out here. We’re out here trying to help people; we need their help.”
If caught, a driver can face a ticket of $173 and three points off their licence in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Act.