Last week, the B.C. government announced that starting on January 1 there will be significant changes made to the Slow Down Move Over rule making roadside work safer for not only emergency vehicles, but for all roadside workers in the province.
The current Slow Down Move Over regulations requires drivers to reduce their speeds and, if they are driving on a multi-lane road, to switch lanes when passing stopped official vehicles, including police, fire, ambulance, tow trucks, Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement vehicles, park rangers and conservation officers.
This regulation, however, leaves several other roadside workers out of the mix.
“Our people are working right there on the side of the road and traffic’s flying by at one hundred and something km per hour,” Sparwood Search and Rescue manager Ed Ehreler said, “it can be pretty scary.”
He went on to say, “Working in that close proximity to moving traffic is definitely hazardous [and] we have family and friends to go home to at the end of the day.”
Ehreler noted that it’s a common thing across B.C. for emergency responders to be at risk from vehicles driving by them on the highway.
Recently stakeholders, including the BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, raised concerns over the current regulations, stating that it does not protect all roadside workers, specifically those who are subject to an equal or higher risk than many of the road workers currently covered.
The new amendment, however, will work to improve the roadside safety for all workers including highway maintenance workers, utility workers, land surveyors, animal control workers and highway maintenance workers.
“It’s nice to see they’ve broadened the base of it,” Ehreler said. “I’m sure it will be a welcome change.”
Drivers must now slow their speed to 70km/hr when in an 80km/h or over zone and to 40 km/hr when in an under 80km/h zone. Failure to abide by these amendments can result in a $173 ticket and three penalty points.
Ehreler commented on the new legislation that will take effect January 1, 2015, noting, “It’s an important piece of legislation for anyone that’s working on the side of the road.”