Ontario Provincial Police will be conducting a traffic safety blitz over the Civic Holiday long weekend targeting drivers who don’t slow down or move over for emergency vehicles and tow trucks parked at the side of the road.
“Emergency workers are vulnerable to injury when working close to traffic. OPP officers are out on the roadways every day ensuring public safety,” OPP Supt. Tony Cristilli told reporters during a news conference in Toronto Thursday morning.
“OPP officers and other emergency workers need to be able to do their jobs with the confidence that other motorists are aware of their obligations and are doing their part to keep them safe.”
Approximately 1,000 charges have been laid so far in 2018 for drivers who have failed to slow down or move over. Last year, OPP said more than 2,100 charges were laid.
“When you see stopped emergency vehicles (with lights flashing) … or a tow truck with their amber lights flashing, you are required by law to slow down significantly,” Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said in a post on Twitter Wednesday evening.
“You need to slow down so you can actually respond to any crisis and move over to an adjacent lane.”
Throughout Schmidt’s video, an unmarked OPP cruiser as well as his own SUV can be seen with lights flashing, parked on the right side of a provincial highway as vehicles speed by in the adjacent lane.
“Those are my lights — pretty clear and obvious that there’s something going on here,” Schmidt said after getting out of his cruiser.
“All these cars, and trucks, and transports, and everybody else, those lights are pretty clearly visible.”
Schmidt said there were six incidents in 2017 where drivers slammed into the back of OPP cruisers. He also said that since 1989, five officers died in similar circumstances.
If convicted, Schmidt said drivers will have to pay a fine of $490.
“Our goal is not to ticket drivers, but to raise awareness of the issues so that hopefully we will never have another tragedy,” Cristilli said.
OPP are also warning boaters to be mindful of their driving habits on the waterways.
“Drivers and boaters need to have their full attention on driving and making responsible decisions,” Cristilli said.
“Aggressive, impaired or distracted driving or boating, can be deadly and of course, life jackets and seat belts are essential.”
— With files from David Shum