Aug 15, 2017
Are you familiar with the Move Over Law in Ontario? Even though Ontario was one of the first provinces to implement these traffic laws, it seems as though most drivers are not because they are increasingly getting tickets for failing to move over for emergency vehicles.
This is perhaps due to the expansion of the scope of the move over law in 2015 to include more than simply moving over to the side of the road for police, firetrucks, and ambulances when they approach.
This blog post provides a move over law definition, discusses the rise in violations, fines and penalties, and provides some tips to help you abide by the Ontario move over law.
What Is The Move Over Law In Ontario?
Emergency vehicles traffic laws have now been expanded to include stopped emergency vehicles. The law states that if you see an emergency vehicle or a tow truck with its lights flashing that is stopped on your side of the road, you must :
- Slow down : Slow down to less than the posted speed limit.
- Pass with caution : Proceed with caution.
- Move over : If the road has two or more lanes, you must move over and provide a lane of space between your vehicle and the emergency vehicle.
Section 159 (2,3) of the Highway Traffic Act
The move over law is defined in section 159 (2,3) of the Highway Traffic Act :
Slow down on approaching stopped emergency vehicle or tow truck
(2) Upon approaching an emergency vehicle with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of red light or red and blue light or a tow truck with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of amber light that is stopped on a highway, the driver of a vehicle travelling on the same side of the highway shall slow down and proceed with caution, having due regard for traffic on and the conditions of the highway and the weather, to ensure that the driver does not collide with the emergency vehicle or tow truck or endanger any person outside of the emergency vehicle or tow truck. 2015, c. 14, s. 47.
(3) Upon approaching an emergency vehicle with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of red light or red and blue light or a tow truck with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of amber light that is stopped on a highway with two or more lanes of traffic on the same side of the highway as the side on which the emergency vehicle or tow truck is stopped, the driver of a vehicle travelling in the same lane that the emergency vehicle or tow truck is stopped in or in a lane that is adjacent to the emergency vehicle or tow truck, in addition to slowing down and proceeding with caution as required by subsection (2), shall move into another lane if the movement can be made safely. 2015, c. 14, s. 47.
Move Over Law Violations On The Rise
According to the Ontario Provincial Police, move over law violations are on the rise since 2011. Charges have more than doubled in this time.
In 2011, 1181 charges were laid; in 2014, 1593 charges laid; and in 2016, 2443 charges laid. There is a clear rise in the number of infractions and a need for awareness.
Penalties For Failure To Move Over For Emergency Vehicles And Tow Trucks
The penalties for failure to move over can include fines, demerit points, and even jail time. Here is a breakdown :
- First offence : A fine between $400 and $2000, plus 3 demerit points
- Additional offences : A fine between $1000 and $4000, possible jail time of up to 6 months, possible driver’s license suspension for up to two years.
Being convicted of failure to move over can have an impact on your driving record and could cause your auto insurance premiums to increase.
Tips For Reacting To Emergency Vehicles
Here are some tips to react responsibly when an emergency vehicle is present :
- Stay alert : Avoid driving distractions and keep your eyes on the road at all times.
- Be cautious : : Always approach emergency vehicles with caution. You never know what could happen. Give them space to operate.
- Use your signals : Always use your signal when you intend to make a lane change to move over for emergency vehicles.
- No sudden movements : Avoid braking suddenly or making a sudden lane change. Check your blind spot and assess road conditions before changing direction or speed.
OPP Tips - How To Move Over On A Two Lane Road
This video shows drivers how to safely move over on two lane roads :
OPP Tips - How To Move Over On A Multi Lane Road
This video shows drivers how to safely move over on highways and multi-lane roads :
If everyone does their part, you can help keep emergency workers safe!
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