East Kootenay Traffic Services were out in full force Wednesday morning as part of a campaign to educate the public on a traffic law that deals with passing service and emergency vehicles.
The law, which came into effect back in 2009, limits the speed that vehicles on both sides of the road can drive past vehicles with flashing blue, red or amber lights.
Cpl. Tom Brannigan was overseeing the operation that morning and said the law has made it much safer for police and other roadside service workers. The problem, he said, is that many people still don’t know about the law and so continue on at the posted limit.
“It’s been three, almost four years and people are still having problems with it,” said Brannigan. “What we’re learning from pulling people over and talking to them is they don’t know the law exists.”
The fine for not obeying the limits, which are 70km/h for any road with a posted limit of 80km/h and over, and 40km/h for any road with a limit below 80km/h, is $173.
“We’re going to be doing a number of these campaigns throughout the year. They will involve either tow trucks or police vehicles,” he said. “Before that law came into place we were really at risk. There was no law mandating that people slow down for us and it was quite common for people to go by us in excess of 100 km/h. We would then have to go and chase them down and write them a ticket for driving without due care and attention or driving without reasonable care for others.”
He said that now the law is pretty clear cut. It is covered under section 47.02 in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations.
“It requires all vehicles to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles,” he said.
“That means any red lights, like a firetruck, red and blue like a police truck, amber lights like a tow truck or B.C. Hydro, Telus, Shaw Cable. If they are working on the side of the road, it’s just a common courtesy that you would slow down and recognize that the amber light means caution.”
As it’s a warning campaign, police were only issuing warnings for that particular infraction, unless vehicles were travelling in excess of 100 km/h.
He noted that the law also requires that both sides of the highway slow down.
East Kootenay Traffic Services will be doing a few more days of the campaign through the summer.