Ontario Provincial Police are urging drivers to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles this long weekend after reporting a spike in charges for a second consecutive year.
OPP laid 2,443 move over and related charges against drivers in 2016, which surpassed numbers the previous year, of 2,050.
The number of charges has steadily increased since 2011, according to statistics, which police note is a “clear sign that many drivers still fail to consider the well-being of the roadside emergency workers the law aims to protect.”
By law, drivers are required to slow down when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights flashing on the same side of the road. On multi-lane highways, drivers are also required to move over a lane if it can be done safely.
The law was amended in 2015 to also include tow trucks parked on the side of the road with their amber lights flashing.
“It is unacceptable to see drivers mark the last two years with some of the worst compliance on record,” said Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Provincial Commander of Traffic Safety and Operational Support.
Drivers who disobey the law could face a fine of $400 to $2,000, plus three demerit points upon conviction.
For subsequent offences within five years, drivers could be fined $1,000 to $4,000, plus possible jail time of up to six months and possible suspension of driver’s license for up to two years.
OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt says “it’s really not about the fines, it’s about everybody getting to go home safe at the end of their shifts.”