A retired RCMP officer says the province’s Move Over law is putting motorists’ lives at risk and he wants the legislation amended.
Brian Carter, who spent 25 years with the RCMP, sent a letter to the province’s ministers of Justice and Transportation a year ago, urging the province to reconsider the legislation, which was enacted in 2010 as a means of protecting emergency responders and motorists alike. He stated in the letter, to which he never received a response, that it does neither.
“This law will eventually kill someone and it will not be the officer, but a citizen who is killed,” stated the letter.
The law requires drivers to slow down to 60 km/h when passing an emergency vehicle with its emergency lights flashing as well as moving over to the neighbouring unoccupied lane of traffic. A violation carries a fine from $352.50 to $2,442.50.
Carter has no issues with the part of the law requiring drivers to move over, which he says is
common sense. It’s the speed at which drivers are being asked to suddenly slow down, generally from 100 km/h to 60, that he takes issue with. He said it poses a serious safety risk, especially on a busier highway where the threat of rear-end collisions exist. In his letter, Carter attributed two recent serious traffic accidents he witnessed in Nova Scotia to the Move Over law. Both incidents, he said, occurred on Highway 102 and involved Halifax Regional police.
“My problem is not with the changing lanes at all. Legislate that till the cows come home. That’s common sense. Slow down, that’s also common sense, but to do so make sure you’re not going to create a hazard by abruptly stopping, from 110 km/h to 60 km/h.”
He said increasing the maximum speed to 80 km/h, the same as highway construction zones, would decrease the danger of highway collisions. The Fall River resident spent five years working highway patrol and experienced several close calls while attendingtraffic incidents, but said the province’s Move Over law would have offered him little help.
“People who hit police cars or officers are usually people on medication or influenced by drugs or alcohol, or have poor vision or mobility.
“During my career I have only seen one officer hit by a car at an accident scene and this law would not have prevented that collision. We have a whole
new generation of people that believe they are not responsible for their own safety, that everyone else is responsible for their safety and this clearly now includes police officers.”
Of the Atlantic provinces, only P.E.I. has a Move Over law similar to Nova Scotia, requiring drivers to slow down to at least half the posted speed limit. Laws in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador instruct drivers to move over but only to slow down and proceed with caution.
Carter said leaving the Move Over law as is would result in motorists potentially breaking other traffic laws, including failing to drive or operate a motor vehicle in a careful and prudent manner or failing to drive or operate a vehicle at a careful and prudent speed for existing conditions.
“If for no reason you slammed on the brakes, I would pull you over and charge you with dangerous driving because you would have vehicles left, right and centre trying to avoid you. But this is what this legislation tells you to do.”
Marla MacInnis, a spokeswoman with the Nova Scotia Transportation Department, said the maximum speed of 60 km/h was decided on after consulting with stakeholders. But MacInnis could not provide evidence to show that the legislation has improved the safety of first responders and or motorists.