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Manitoba RCMP renew calls for local drivers to slow down, move over

Manitoba RCMP held a road-side simulation of safety officers on a traffic stop Oct. 12. Randall Paull / Global News

Do you know what to do when you come upon a police car pulled over on the side of the road? Common sense says slowing down is the right thing to do, and, since 2011, it’s actually the law.

READ MORE: Slow down and move over for “official vehicles” 

The ‘Slow Down Move Over’ law came into effect six years ago under the Highway Traffic Act. It dictates that drivers travelling on a roadway with a posted speed limit of 80 km/h or more, must slow to 60 when passing emergency vehicles on the road side. Below 79 km/h, drivers must slow to 40.

As the name of the law implies, drivers are also required to move over. If the roadway has two lanes in the same direction (such as Hwy. #1), one must move to the far lane. If the roadway is only two lanes of opposing direction, a driver must slow and wait to pass only when the other lane is clear.

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More than the right thing to do, slowing down could be a matter of life and death. A person struck by a car travelling 80 km/h or more has almost no chance of surviving. If the vehicle was going 45 km/h, the survival rate is about 50 per cent. If the vehicle is moving 30 km/h, the victim has a 90 per cent chance of surviving.

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Anyone who has ever had to pull over on the side of a Manitoba highway knows a little of what it is like for cops during traffic stops. Unnerving to say the least, downright dangerous more to the point. On Oct. 12, Manitoba RCMP held a road-side simulation on Rosser Road allowing attendees to experience first-hand what an officer sees on a traffic stop.

“We do all we can to keep officers safe when they are conducting traffic stops,” Inspector Ed Moreland, Officer in Charge of Traffic Services for the Manitoba RCMP said.

“Our officers are trained to park partially overlapped with the stopped vehicle in order to create a safety pocket. This is done so that the police car will be hit before an officer is. However, with the high speeds motorists are travelling, officers do get hit, and the results can be tragic.

Under the Slow Down, Move Over law, failure to slow to appropriate speeds when passing an emergency vehicle on a road side will result in a $299 fine and two driver safety rating points. Despite the hefty cost, many Manitobans appear to be unaware of or oblivious to the law – RCMP have charged more than 400 people under this legislation so far this year.

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