One Change to Slow Down and Move Over Rule Improves Safety

Slow Down and Move Over. Pretty straight forward rule to follow but we’ve made it even simpler to keep roadside workers safer.

In a nutshell: if you see any vehicle flashing red, blue or yellow lights on a BC highway, move over to pass.

Or more specifically, the Slow Down, Move Over rule states:

Drivers must slow their speed to 70km/h when in an 80km/h or over zone, and 40km/h when in an under 80km/h zone. If travelling on a multi-lane road, the driver must move into another lane to pass when passing stopped vehicles with a flashing light, where safe to do so.

Whether the vehicle is a police, fire, ambulance, tow trucks, maintenance contractors, Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement vehicles, park rangers and conservation officers, please obey the law. We made the change to the rule because before it stated “official vehicles,” but our stakeholders, including the BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, raised concerns that the previous regulation didn’t include/protect all roadside workers. For example, maintenance workers are frequently required to stop on the side of the road for inspections or highway maintenance. These workers are at equal or greater risk than many of the workers covered under the old regulations.

So we updated it.

This change will improve safety for all those working our roadsides, including highway maintenance workers, utility workers, land surveyors, animal control workers and garbage collectors, reducing the risk of them being struck by passing vehicles.

It all started January 1st, 2015. I hope you agree that that’s a pretty good way to start the new year: improving safety.

Please drive safely, for you and for those using our roads as well.

Here’s the news release announcing the change.

 

38 comments on “One Change to Slow Down and Move Over Rule Improves Safety”

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  1. my question regards pulling over and/or completely stopping when emergency vehicles are travelling in the OPPOSITE direction, often in a divided roadway situation. (ie: kingsway in vancouver, scott road in Surrey) there seems to be some confusion over what exactly a driver should do.

    Reply
    • Hello Denise – great question. The ICBC driver training manual states the following:

      Know the rules — emergency vehicles displaying flashing lights and sirens always have the right-of-way. All traffic moving in both directions must stop. (Exception: if you are on a divided highway and the emergency vehicle is approaching on the other side of the median, you may not need to stop. Make sure that it would be impossible for the emergency vehicle to move onto your side of the highway.)

      Hope that this helps! Here’s the link to the manual: https://www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/Documents/driver-full.pdf

      Reply
  2. I live up north and was recently ticketed for not slowing down to 70kph to pass a police car on a 2 lane highway. I was in a 90kph zone, moved over into the other lane, slowed down to about 80kph to pass. Due to the fact that the police car was completely off the highway and on the shoulder, that put my vehicle a full lane away from the police car. Nobody was out of their vehicle at the time.
    I am an experienced driver of 34 years with a clean driving record and, by my judgement, this was more than safe.

    Having served as a volunteer firefighter for many years and having driven an official vehicle in that capacity, I was aware of the pullover rule and had seen a highway sign to that effect. Unfortunately I have not been able to volunteer in recent years and as such I was not aware of the relatively recent changes to the “move over and slow down” rule.
    I was completely unaware of the fact that I was required to slow to 70kph. I made the ticketing officer aware of the fact that I did not know but he showed absolutely no sign of compassion. I was expecting to get a warning but instead was given the full fine along with the accompanying 3 points.
    Later, on my way home, I went to take a look at the highway sign I mentioned earlier and noticed that they had just added the new speed limits to the bottom of the existing sign. This being the only way , i could have known about the changes to the rule.

    I think that if there was a more targeted approach to driver education dealing with new rules or changes to existing rules, more of the related accidents and or incidents such as the one I experienced here could be avoided.
    Possibly letting drivers know about this sort of thing when they renew insurance, drivers licence etc. Possibly even an annual bulletin mailing, including any changes or new rules. This could even be included in the insurance renewal reminder every vehicle owner receives.

    “tranbceditor” above, stated that the regulation protects the drivers of these official vehicles.

    The regulations do not protect anyone.
    Driver awareness, education, knowledge and their ability so safely follow the regulations and rules protects everyone.

    Reply
    • Good afternoon Heath – thanks for your comment. We can certainly understand your frustration, but we can also understand RCMP feeling to required to ticket, as they must experience so many close calls with drivers who are not nearly as diligent as you sound to be. We here in the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure do share the new messaging quite regularly and promote the education of drivers through our social platforms whenever we can, but we will also share your comment forward with our colleagues at ICBC as well. Again thank you for connecting with us here. We appreciate hearing from you. 🙂

      Reply
      • Could you please outline a summary of your communication efforts to ensure the public was aware of this change? I am interested to understand the efforts made by TransBC to ensure all drivers are aware of changes.
        Many thanks

        Reply
        • Good morning Mary and thanks for your question.

          The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure prepared a news release for public education, updated their website with this information, created and shared this blog post on all of our social media channels, worked with ICBC to update their Drive Smart manual (see pg. 94) as well as shared the messaging on our overhead boards on BC Highways.

          We also continue to share this messaging during our annual cone zone campaign (and throughout the year) in order to raise awareness of this important safety issue. We hope that this helps!

          Reply
          • Thank you for replying but that seems an odd way to communicate such a major change hat has major consequences for drivers. I have renewed my insurance for the past 4 years, renewed my drivers license in 2018, and have never received any notification. I have also never seen a sign to indicate this new law and regularly drive the Sea to Sky highway.

            You should up your efforts and do a better job of reaching your target audience – which is all drivers! Very few consumers would actively follow you on social media or visit your website. However they do need to renew their license and pay their annual insurance premiums. Seems like a no brainer to me to include law changes there.

            I support the law to protect those in danger, but I have heard many cases of situations where ticket happy police officers are quick to fine even when there was zero awareness of the new law (as in the case of Heath), and when the danger presented was questionable (i.e. slowing down to 75 rather than 70km per hour). A fine and 3 points is pretty steep for driving 5 km an hour over the new limit.

            My 2 cents for what it is worth.

          • Thanks for your feedback Mary – we certainly can appreciate it. While we are responsible for updating the legislation, and we do try to help educate the travelling public, ICBC and Road Safety BC are formally responsible for educating the travelling public on the BC MVA. This update to the BC MVA was actually only an update to already existing legislation, providing specific details around speed and requirements of drivers. The law has been in the BC MVA for many years, however law enforcement agencies, emergency responders and roadside workers found themselves at risk roadside on a regular basis and worked with us to update it. Driver training and the Drive Smart manual has been instructing drivers to give wide berth to roadside workers for many years, as a common sense driving practice. Again, we thank you for connecting with us here, if you would like to share your concerns with how this update to legislation is communicated to the travelling public, we encourage you to reach out to the folks in Road Safety BC and ICBC.

            Here’s a video created and shared by Road Safety BC to help communicate the message to the travelling public. It was also aired on the television and all transportation and road safety agencies (us included) continue to share the messaging out on a regular basis to improve public education.

            https://youtu.be/pIfQOIAVrMQ

          • I totally agree with your reply Mary.
            I did a bit of a survey about this particular change to the MVA. Approximately 95% of drivers I questioned about this rule, including a few commercial drivers, an ICBC insurance agent and a BC government agent worker were unaware of the specific changes to this particular rule. If rules such as this are deemed important enough to change, you would think that it would be important enough to let people know.

  3. It took me a while to find this info. I really wish this was easier to find online.
    People seem to have at least some confusion about construction zones and I can understand why.
    As a roadside worker I am often questioning why the driving test does not have anything (really noteworthy)
    about driving through construction zones. Thanks for having this forum.

    Reply
  4. No. The driver leaves their vehicle and presumably goes to their home, which I assume is nearby, given the frequency that it’s parked on our street.

    In some cases, the driver parks the truck in the evening and doesn’t move it again until morning. I seriously doubt that they could move the truck immediately if there was an emergency. I assume that they’re at home and asleep. I wouldn’t even know which door to knock on if there was a problem.

    Reply
    • Hello James,

      We sent your question to our traffic engineers who told us that whether or not the tow truck can occupy the space in front of a fire access lane does indeed come down to whether or not they are an official vehicle. Section 47.01 of the MVA Regulations provides the definition of an official vehicle:

      47.01 (1) In this Division, “official vehicle” means a vehicle that
      (a) is authorized under section 4.28 to display flashes of red, blue, white or amber light, and
      (b) is displaying flashes of red, blue, white or amber light
      (i) in accordance with any limits or conditions set out in section 4.28 or specified by the director under section 4.28 (1) (b),
      (ii) while the vehicle is stopped on or on the side of a highway, and
      (iii) while the vehicle’s components are being operated, or a member of the vehicle’s crew is working, on or on the side of the highway.
      (2) Despite subsection (1), a school bus is not an official vehicle for the purposes of this Division.

      The key point here is that the tow truck must be in operation (i.e. with lights on) – not parked with the operator absent.

      Hope that this helps.

      Reply
      • Thank you for clarifying that point. You’ve been very helpful.

        If you happen to have an easy way to pass this information on to the Burnaby RCMP, it might allow for a better outcome when this comes up again in the future. It’s unfortunate that they are providing incorrect information to citizens about this law.

        Keep up the good work!

        Reply
  5. Does the fact that tow trucks are now “official vehicles” impact their ability to stop and stand under the BC Motor Vehicle regulations (i.e. Park in no parking areas)

    There is a tow truck that frequently parks in and completely blocks the fire access lane at my strata complex. Basically, he or she is using this no parking spot as a personal parking space for extended periods (e.g. Many hours and overnight).

    This lane is the only point of access if emergency fire vehicles had to drive to the inner structures of the strata. I contacted the towing company and was unsuccessful in getting any action. When I contacted the RCMP, I was advised that a tow truck is permitted to park in the fire lane, that it is a technicality in law because tow trucks are “emergency vehicles” and that there is nothing that the RCMP can do about it.

    True? Not true? Please advise.

    Reply
    • Hi James,

      Thanks for your question about the tow truck driver that parks in the “no parking” area by your strata complex. Could you please clarify whether the driver stays with the vehicle, presumably while waiting for a dispatch call? (i.e. Could they immediately move their truck if there was an emergency?) This may be important in obtaining an answer to your question.

      Reply
    • Hello Deb,

      This is not a new law or any law for that matter. Construction zones can present hazards to cyclists that require a higher level of caution than to drivers. This is due to the instability of bicycles which can lead to a fall. At the discretion of the attendants in the work zone, cyclists may be asked to stop and dismount if the road surface or geometry cannot facilitate the passage of cyclists. This is outlined in Section 18 of the 2015 Interim Traffic Management Manual for Work on Roadways. Hope that this helps.

      Reply
  6. Had a semi blow through my work zone so fast today that it blew over 3 delineators in the taper for the lane closure (i.e. one of them was over half a lane away from the passing semi). ‘PROFESSIONAL’ drivers – although you might have a clear lane to travel in you still need to SLOW DOWN in construction zones.

    Wish I had seen his license plate so I could report him to the RCMP.

    Reply
  7. It would be nice if drivers would slow down and move over. However, I would be happy if they wouldn’t drive right up to the tailgate of my truck when I have a flashing arrowboard indicating for them to move over into the adjacent lane (when there is nothing preventing them from changing lanes apart from their own inattentiveness and indecision).

    Reply
  8. Better educate the drivers with the lights also, my truck has been peppered twice this year by the YRB trucks, which did not have the flashing yellow lights on.

    Reply
  9. We should also be cautious of any vehicle at the side of the road with flashing lights this includes private vehicles they are call hazard lights for reason. Time to be aware and take care of all users of road ways. Lets reduce these incidents to 0

    Reply
  10. Speed limits are set for ideal driving conditions. Construction zone speed limits reflect the many variable which impact driving through that area. If, for some reason, you see flashing lights in a construction zone, you are required to slow down to 10 km below the posted speed limit. Even in an well thought out construction zone, things can go awry – which is why we require extra care and attention in these zones in particular.

    Reply
  11. If the construction zone is signed at a certain speed, don’t they want you moving through at that speed? I can understand areas where maintenance personnel are working, but usually construction zones are more coordinated and planned out — e.g. when Highway 1 was being widened.

    Reply
  12. And with all the media blitz and whatnot about move over and slow down, I was on the SFPR and rounded the curve heading away from the Port Mann area heading to 176, flashing amber lights it was a tow truck hooking up, I move over to the left lane, drop right down to 70 (10 under the posted limit of 80) and I get the high beam flash from someone who can’t be bothered. C’mon folks a human body out there is no match for a vehicle hit, trust me as I was nailed by a truck many years ago when I was a kid and thankfully I’m still here by some miracle.

    Reply
  13. If I move over 1 lane, do I still need to slow down? Do all lanes of traffic in the same direction (let’s say 4 lanes on a highway), need to slow down to 70km/h?

    Reply
    • Hi Randy,

      Good questions. Yes, you need to slow down. Even if you are not in the lane directly beside the working vehicle, you will need to adjust your speed to accommodate vehicles which may need to move into your lane. Giving the workers a wide enough berth and moving at a reasonable speed helps everyone. Thanks!

      Reply
  14. Has any thought been given to having construction speed zones signs all be set to 40km/h as it may cause confusion where oginal speed is 80 and construction speed limit is 60. Would have to slow to 40 when passing vehicles but not necessarily workers. And I’m not clear whether the legislation applies to the original speed limit or the current speed limit.

    Reply
    • Hi Murray,

      The legislation applies to the current speed limit posted.Thanks for your feedback, we will share it forward on your behalf. Hope that this helps!

      Reply