What the RCMP Wants You to Know About the Slow Down Move Over Law

Slow Down Move Over Enforcement

The BC RCMP recently confirmed the Slow Down Move Over rule is being ignored by many drivers.

A series of near misses and collisions with roadside vehicles happened over the last few months. In response, RCMP Traffic Services members performed “Operation Shield” on Highway 1 in Surrey and Chilliwack on June 16, 2015. The results were not good.

Police officers issued 20 violation tickets, each coming with a $173 fine and 3 penalty points.

If it was safe to pull over multiple vehicles at once, several more violators would have been stopped and ticketed, according to Cpl. Ronda Rempel of BC RCMP Traffic Services.

“Officers observed numerous trucks failing to slow down to the 70 km/h and move over,” says Cpl. Rempel.

“With the sheer weight of these vehicles, a crash would most likely be fatal for the officer and the driver who was stopped. Drivers of passenger vehicles were also guilty of the same offence, some passing the fully marked police vehicle at speeds greater than 100 km/h.”

slow down move over explained

Like many rules of the road, the Slow Down Move Over law is based on common sense. These simple actions give the people on the roadside a buffer from traffic, minimizing their chance of being hit.

It really should be as automatic as signalling before a turn, or looking both ways before leaving a stop sign (or, dare we say, keeping right and letting others pass?).

So many jobs require workers to perform on or next to roads and highways. More than you may think. Here are a few:

·         Police ·         Park Rangers
·         Firefighters ·         Conservation Officers
·         Paramedics ·         Utility Workers
·         Tow Truck Operators ·         Land Surveyors
·         Highway Maintenance Workers ·         Animal Control Workers
·         Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement ·         Garbage Collectors

You probably know a few people who would fit somewhere above. Let’s help keep them safe by respecting a pretty simple rule of the road. As Cpl. Rempel says:

“Roadside workers need BC drivers to be the protectors now.”

Do you, or someone close to you, work roadside? What do you want drivers to keep in mind when approaching roadside vehicles with flashing blue, red or amber lights. Speak out in the comments section below.

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34 Responses to What the RCMP Wants You to Know About the Slow Down Move Over Law

  1. Lee on May 3, 2019 at 6:10 am

    Me and my partner were coming down the highway a couple of weeks ago. There was a police car pulled over doing a traffic stop. We were on the outside lane (slow lane). The police car had stopped the vehicle on the turning lane so there’s a full lane of separation between us. My partner was driving- we were doing the posted limit of 90km/hr on the nose due to the high number of traffic enforcement police that day. As we were passing the police vehicle my partner slowed down to about 80km/hr but didn’t move over lanes.
    She was then pulled over by another traffic cop and given a ticket for failure to move over. He said she was required to move all the way over to the farthest lane possible. Is this correct?
    Again, the police car was fully on the shoulder of the turning lane which meant there was a full lane of separation between him and our vehicle. Thanks

    • tranbceditor on May 3, 2019 at 5:16 pm

      Hi Lee,

      Thanks for your question about the ticket that your partner received for failing to slow down and move over.

      Division 47 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations states:

      When an official vehicle is stopped
      47.02 (1) Subject to subsection (2), a person driving a motor vehicle on a highway in either direction must drive the motor vehicle at no more than the following rate of speed when approaching or passing an official vehicle:
      (a) 70 km/h, if signs on the highway limit the rate of speed to 80 km/h or more;
      (b) 40 km/h, if signs on the highway limit the rate of speed to less than 80 km/h;
      (c) the rate of speed indicated on the signs, if signs on the highway limit the rate of speed to less than 40 km/h.
      (2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a driver who approaches or passes an official vehicle from the opposite direction on a highway that contains a laned roadway or is divided by a median.
      (3) In addition to the requirements of subsection (1), a driver travelling in a lane adjacent to the stopped official vehicle or in the same lane in which the official vehicle is stopped must, if it is safe to do so, and unless otherwise directed by a peace officer, move his or her motor vehicle into another lane of the laned roadway, if any.

      This means that the operator of the vehicle was required to slow down to 70 km/h, however you say your partner was travelling 80 km/h. From your description, it sounds as if you were in the adjacent (slow lane). Thus, as indicated above, you were required to move over, to the lane on your left.

  2. Sharon Douglas on June 29, 2018 at 9:19 am

    I always move over and slow down but I never realized that there was an actual speed that I was to slow down to. I am surprised I have never gotten a ticket. Most of the highways I drive on are only 80 kms so slowing down to 70 is no issue. I probably slow down even lower than that. My daughter got a ticket yesterday when she was travelling on a highway in Saskatchewan that the speed limit was 120. She moved over and slowed down to 90 thinking she was doing the right thing and ended up getting pulled over. She was told she was suppose to slow down to 60 not 70. That is why I am on this site as I didn’t think the was right. I live in Ontario and my daughter lives in Saskatchewan so I am not sure if it is different in each province. I am quite shocked that in a 120 you have to slow down all the way to 70 and in anything below 80 down to a 40. In anything below a 80 like a 70 I don’t think I have ever slowed down to a 40. I never knew this before and I do keep myself up to date on this type of information. My granddaughter that we have raised just got her license a year ago. She took Driver Ed and is a very cautious driver. She pays attentions and listens extremely well and said she never knew that there was an exact speed that you were to slow down to. Why isn’t this being taught in Drivers Ed or on the exam for your license? Thank you so much for this site and educating people like myself, my daughter, and one of my granddaughters.

    • tranbceditor on July 4, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      Hi Sharon,

      Thanks for sharing the experiences that you, your daughter and grand-daughter have had with the Slow Down, Move Over law. It varies from province to province, so however people learn about it, one has to be aware of what the rule is where they are driving.

      In 2015, the BC Motor Vehicle Act regulation changed to provide maintenance workers, utility workers, land surveyors, animal control workers and garbage collectors with greater protection from accident and injury. These workers are now included in our “Slow Down, Move Over” legislation, which also protects the operators of emergency and enforcement vehicles and tow trucks. We changed our signage at the same time to indicate that the rule applied to vehicles with flashing lights, (whereas it used to say something like “slow down and move over for emergency responders.” Where the speed limit is 80 km/h or higher, drivers must slow to 70 km/h, if they approach a vehicle stopped at the roadside with its lights flashing, Where the limit is below 80 km/h, drivers must reduce their speed to 40 km/h.

      We regularly post information about any changes to BC legislation on our social media platforms. I know you live in Ontario, but if you or any of your other family members are curious about what’s going on in BC, you can “Like” us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TranBC or follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/TranBC It was great to hear that you have three generations of safety-conscious drivers!

    • Anonymous on June 29, 2019 at 2:33 pm

      I just received a 546 dollar ticket by the Regina Police Service about an hour away from Regina. I was not aware that you had to slow down to 60 km/h when going by a traffic stop in the opposite lane. I slowed and moved over. There were 2 units doing a sneaky gig, the lead car pulled over a motorist and stayed half in the driving lane to shield the second unit hiding behind to catch unaware motorists such as myself. Seems a little childish and a money grab in my opinion.

  3. Evan Lachmanec on October 11, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    With the reinforcement of the slow down and move over laws, how is it legal for a police officer to make a “speed trap” stop without turning their lights on? It’s still a danger since they’re on the shoulder of the road.

    • tranbceditor on October 13, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      Hello Evan,

      Thanks for your very astute question! We asked our traffic engineers and they informed us that section 120 and 122 of the BC MVA give emergency officers and vehicles special permissions to perform their job roadside.

      Exemption for emergency vehicles

      122 (1) Despite anything in this Part, but subject to subsections (2) and (4), a driver of an emergency vehicle may do the following:

      (a) exceed the speed limit;

      (b) proceed past a red traffic control signal or stop sign without stopping;

      (c) disregard rules and traffic control devices governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions;

      (d) stop or stand.

      (2) The driver of an emergency vehicle must not exercise the privileges granted by subsection (1) except in accordance with the regulations.

      (3) [Repealed 1997-30-2.]

      (4) The driver of an emergency vehicle exercising a privilege granted by subsection (1) must drive with due regard for safety, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including the following:

      (a) the nature, condition and use of the highway;

      (b) the amount of traffic that is on, or might reasonably be expected to be on, the highway;

      (c) the nature of the use being made of the emergency vehicle at the time.

  4. Jeffrey Wynne on April 22, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Thanks for the response. My employer came to the same conclusion when we discussed this, so it’s given me some peace of mind. I guess it was just a really good reminder to look out for these potential situations. Take care,
    Jeff

  5. Jeffrey Wynne on April 16, 2017 at 2:09 am

    Question for professional tow truck operators:

    This evening, I came across a very large tow truck at the side of the road. I was driving a sedan below the speed limit (and was alert and focused), but it was dark and visibility was limited by either a curve and / or elevation change in the highway. There was someone close behind me, so I wasn’t confident that I could change lanes safely within the given distance. As I approached, I noticed the operator standing very close next to the truck, almost on the shoulder line. He was not wearing very visible reflective gear.

    I responded by reducing my speed to 45km/h (in a 100km/h zone), gave as much room as possible, then turned on my left turn signal, very quickly shoulder checked, and began to slightly edge into the left lane as I passed the tow truck and operator. It was way too close for comfort.

    Was this the correct response for the conditions encountered? Switching lanes fully would have been my first choice, but at 95km/h, doing so would have been a split-second judgment, and it was hard to tell at first if the left lane was safe to move into. I would say I had about four seconds to respond.

    Secondly, the roadside operator gave me hand signals as I passed by, but it was very unclear what he was trying to communicate (they were short, 45 degree angle rapid movement towards his chest). He did not seem to be trying to step out of the way. Was he trying to tell me to fully shift into the other lane? Or was he trying to indicate that he was safe, and that I could resume speed again?

    The whole scenario really bothered me. I recently began training for a job that will involve heavy machine operation and license upgrading, so I take my driving very seriously. I was alone at the time of this occurrence, and am trying to determine what the correct course of action should have been. At the end of the day, safety is my bottom line, and if I should have responded differently, please let me know so that I can learn from this experience. (I will also be consulting my employer / trainer for their opinion, too).

    Thanks,
    Jeff

    • tranbceditor on April 18, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you did the best you could in your given situation. Unfortunately, roadside workers don’t always have a clear, straight stretch of well lit highway to work on. That is why drivers need to remain alert and aware at all times.

  6. BC Driver on July 7, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    I don’t watch the news.
    I don’t have a TV, I don’t subscribe to any newspapers.
    I don’t read or listen to any sort of mainstream media (I think its all a garbage waste of time, but that’s a different discussion).

    I have been driving for 15 years.

    I found this (obviously a little late, its a year old now and it seems this has been law for years now) through a simple google search about an unrelated driving complaint I had.

    I had no idea this law even existed.
    If i had been ticketed for this at some point I would have been seriously seriously angry.

    Let me make this very clear, and I certainly hope someone stops by to read this comment:
    Not everyone follows pop culture media.

    If you want to add new laws that affect people in there day to day lives you MUST inform them.
    A simple letter in the mail to all people with licenses will suffice. That’s to expensive you say? To bad. I’m not listening on other channels.

  7. James Cooper on September 4, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    The problem with introducing the “slow down move over” law in BC is in part the increasingly poor quality of drivers using BC roads today, attitudes drivers represent toward those working alongside roadways and, last but not least the low financial levies on offenders.
    Raising unpopular fines (financially not points) would strike offenders in their wallets and start people thinking.
    Unpopular YES! … though higher fines would clearly strike where it hurts.

  8. Vic on September 1, 2015 at 12:38 am

    I do not agree with the slow to 70 speed I find people take there eyes off of me to watch there speed o and start drifting! Just decelerate,signal and move over if possible!Show some courtesy and common sense!

  9. DriveSmartBC on July 16, 2015 at 10:25 am

    The slow down part is easy, but the move over part can be problematic, especially if there is little (or no) advance warning of the situation. Occasionally the disable vehicle blocks the lights of the tow truck or road geometry prevents advance view. Perhaps section 138 MVA needs to be considered for more awareness and enforcement.

    • tranbceditor on July 16, 2015 at 10:56 am

      Good point DriveSmartBC, signs warning of obstruction/work on the road ahead give traffic the time to move over and should be used wherever possible.

  10. Steve on July 11, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    You need to treat this more seriously. Fines should be $1000.00 plus 6 points for first offense. This is attempted murder! Haven’t enough officers been killed by careless, ignorant people who can’t slow down for 2 minutes?

    Spike strips are a terrible idea and wasting tax money to prove people are idiots is even more terrible.

    If you don’t start taking this seriously by increasing the punishment, no one will ever take it seriously.

    I always slow down for flashing lights even a normal car pulled over with 4 ways on. Everyone behind me freaks out honking their horn and waving their arms around like the monkeys they are.

  11. Steve on July 11, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Hi there,

    I’m in Alberta but we deal with the same issues. Tickets should be much, much higher. Spike strip, etc. Are a rediculous idea; Have you seen what happens to a car doing 50-70k hr hitting one of those? Apparently not.

    I always slow down and move over when I see lights flashing and people behind me start freaking out with their horns and waving their hands around like monkeys.

    Fine these people 1000.00$ and take away 6 points from their license. I’d say it’s attempted murder to drive by officers who have pulled someone over at such insane speeds. You need to be more strict with the punishments or people will -never- listen. Ever.

  12. Leo on July 9, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    As a CVSE employee, operator of a patrol vehicle and a former Mobile Operator and EVO instructor, I have to wonder about the comments from Peter the tow truck operator. We NEVER instruct any staff to block a lane while working a major highway (especially Highway 1 – Lower Mainland) unless it has already been blocked by Police/Fire/Ambulance in the case of an MVA. Stopping just a single lane causes up to a 90% (based on a report from California Transportaion)reduction in traffic flow and can back up traffic for many kilometers. This just compounds the problem and causes more frustration and anger for the motoring public: I do not control people, places or things. I can only control what I do. I ensure the stopped vehicle is moved far enough over onto the shoulder to work around it safely. I will relocate if I can safely do so. If I lane needs to be blocked – a whole new set of protocals for safety must be intiated: ie – directional cones – flaggers – trucks with arrow stick/sign boards etc. Work smart and be safe – you cannot control as much as you may think you can – don’t find out the hard way – it won’t be pretty.

  13. Larry Ash on July 8, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    I know how to catch every speeder and get drivers to start to obey this law 100%. What is needed for the right lane (if 2 lane road) is Spike Strips! And for the left lane a photo radar controlled spike strip,if only 1 lane then deploy the photo radar spike strip.With warning signs of course,I guarantee word will spread like wildfire if speeders refusing to quit risking lives and speed will now need a tow truck and new tires,and will be waiting at the side of the road for their ticket to top it off.Once that hits the news and word of mouth,everyone will slow in these zones,I also like this Idea for playground and school zones.

    • tranbceditor on July 9, 2015 at 9:32 am

      Hi Larry,
      Thanks for the suggestion but that would be REALLY unsafe and would not be a consideration. As safety for the traveling public is the Number 1 priority for our ministry, we’ll continue to work with the RCMP, our various stakeholders and through public consultation on what would work best on our highways to deter inappropriate driving.

      • Larry Ash on July 9, 2015 at 12:01 pm

        If the speeders were caught after the construction zone,if they sped through,,,and warned before of the outcome if caught speeding through the zone,then limited safety to the public would occur and drop to almost Zero after this was put in place as word would spread very fast and every news outlet would plaster it everywhere….But if the safety of the speeders is more important than the workers in these zones that get killed and injured well continue your way and death and injury will continue as from what I witness your way has little effect or deterrent so far,,,but good luck!

        • tranbceditor on July 9, 2015 at 2:21 pm

          Sorry you feel that way Larry. And again, thanks for the comment.
          As we’ve stated, everyone’s safety (drivers, flaggers, etc.) is important to us and we’ll continue to work with that as our priority. If you have any suggestions that don’t put anyone in the possibility of harm’s way, we’d certainly love to hear it.

          • Larry Ash on July 9, 2015 at 9:03 pm

            I’m not trying to be a smart alec,And I understand your safety concerns,your worried someone will lose control of their vehicle and cause a crash.But I’m talking modified spike strips that would let the air out fairly rapidly and not shred the tire,which would allow the driver to pull over when they feel control lose starting to happen.
            But the main point is within days to a week or 2 this would no longer be a problem as compliance to slowing would rise to 99% or higher as now the speeder doesn’t face a ticket and points alone,(which seems to be to many no concern at all,,,that’s what I meant) Now they have the total lose of their vehicle until a tow truck comes and they get new tires.
            So now not slowing would be a much more inconvenience that if they just slow down and follow the law through these zones.
            I feel death and injury would be almost totally eliminated with in weeks,like I said.

            I won’t keep harping,but I didn’t explain properly I see,Its just I feel strongly the minor risks for a short period of time would solve this problem,and as the risk exists daily as it stands now almost a 100% saving of injury and life would be a great outcome.

            Thanks! You can comment if you like,I will read it but I wont comment again unless there is a question as I’m not trying to be a troll or ignorant,I was trying to be sincere.

  14. Peter on July 8, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    I work for a towing company day in day out nobody slows down ive gotten to the point where I will block a lane completely so they have to slow down. Ive done this on hwy 1 several times now people are so ignorant that ive had cars lined up bebind my truck honking there horns. I want to go home to my family every night so im gonna do what I have to do even if it means inconvencing other drivers. The police can only do so much they cant be everywhere I dont know what the answer is but people need to smarten up before someone gets killed.

    • Vic on September 1, 2015 at 12:25 am

      Peter
      You are just making it bad for all of the professionals working out on the roads every day!Blocking traffic is the last possible resort! For safety you want to keep traffic flowing so you don’t get congestion or road rage!If you can’t work safe find a new job!

      • Peter on September 3, 2015 at 11:49 am

        I cant believe that someone would worry about traffic flow than the life of someone you obviously are one if those people that dont slow down for anybody! If you notice emergency vehicles block lanes all the time just because of idiot drivers im was taught to do this and will continue if you are inconvenienced by this too bad! We need to do what ontario just passed then maybe people will smarten up.

  15. Ken on July 7, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    heh they need to start major enforcement. I was given a strong horn blast and high beams the other day for moving to the left lane and slowing to 70 on highway 99 in south Surrey the other day. Police had someone pulled over on the right side shoulder. Drivers in this region are just in too much of a rush to drive within reason. Heck I even get passed like I’m sitting still on 16th Ave through Langley and Surrey. Almost like road rules be damned.

  16. Brad on July 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I’m still not clear.
    If we can move over a lane, do we still need to slow to 70?

    • tranbceditor on July 7, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      Hi Brad. Yes, when it’s possible to move over, you still also need to slow to 70km/h in an 80km/h or over zone, or 40 km/h in a zone under 80 km/h.

  17. Brian Lang on July 7, 2015 at 11:23 am

    RCMP need to setup vehicles with flashers on, and then set a trap a little past that spot with room to pull over lots of vehicles. You could probably get a video + radar setup that would record drivers in the lane closest to the drivers and their speed. The officer writing the ticket could use the video for evidence if the driver took it to court. Every car in the close lane over the 70km/h speed would get pulled over and ticketed.
    There’s lots of places this could be setup with lots of room to pull over lots of cars.

    • tranbceditor on July 7, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      Thanks for the suggestions, Brian. We relayed your comment to Cpl. Ronda Rempel from RCMP Traffic Services (she is quoted in the post).

    • Drew on July 7, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      That would slightly unsafe for the officer on the road. Its actually against CVSE policy to do what youve suggested. No reason to put officers in damger to prove a point. Id rather see more enforcement in construction zones where this is routinely ignored.

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