Burnaby – New rules of the road to protect emergency roadside workers will come into effect on June 1, 2009 requiring drivers to slow down and move over when passing stopped emergency vehicles that have their lights flashing.

The new law brings welcome relief to many emergency roadside providers, including tow truck operators. BCAA has actively advocated for safety regulations on behalf of its Road Assist personnel and towing companies for a number of years.

BCAA’s advocacy efforts stemmed from the death of Vernon Towing employee, Ernie Semkiw who was struck and killed by a passing van while assisting a disabled vehicle on behalf of BCAA. His tow truck’s amber lights were activated at the time.

“By slowing down and moving over, drivers will be able to safely pass and respond to emergency activity at the roadside, and more importantly, save lives,” says BCAA’s Road Assist Director, Ken Cousin. “We applaud government for listening and introducing these new measures, in sync with similar regulations elsewhere in Canada and the U.S.” Currently five provinces and 40 U.S. states have similar requirements.

The new law requires drivers to slow down to 70km/h on highways where the speed limit is 80 km/h or higher, and to 40 km/h where the limit is below 80 km/h, when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle that has its lights flashing. If there is another lane going in the same direction, drivers must also move into that lane, if it is safe to do so.

Until now, B.C. has only had laws for driving in construction zones; none to protect emergency roadside personnel such as police, fire, ambulance and towing vehicles. Those found in contravention of the new rules will face a fine and three penalty points against their licence. The fine, including a 15 per cent surcharge, is $148 if paid within 30 days or $175 thereafter.


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