The SLOW DOWN & MOVE OVER Law

Ambulance and Firetruck

Did you know that it is the law that one must move over for not only emergency vehicles but also for tow trucks?

Even though Ontario was one of the first provinces to implement these traffic laws, it seems as though many drivers are not aware, and are increasingly being ticketed for failing to move over for both emergency vehicles and tow trucks.

So, what exactly should you do when you approach or are passing a police car, ambulance, fire truck or a tow truck?

What is the Move Over Law in Ontario?

Ontario’s move over law, or Section 159 of the Highway Traffic Act, states that you must slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle OR tow truck with flashing lights. This law defines “emergency vehicles” as including ambulances, fire vehicles, police cars, tow trucks, and public utility vehicles.

As a driver, you must:

  • Slow down: Reduce your speed and slow down to less than the posted speed limit.
  • Pass with caution: Proceed with caution or pass.
  • Move over: If the road has two or more lanes, you must move over and provide a lane of space between your vehicle and the emergency vehicle.

Move Over Law Penalties:

If you are convicted of not obeying the Move Over Law, you can face a fine ranging from $400 to $2,000 plus three demerit points.

Subsequent offences (within five years) carry a fine of $1,000 to $4,000, possible jail time of up to six months and possible suspension of your driver’s license for up to two years.

Any of the above outcomes can also lead to an increase in your insurance premiums.

How To React To STOPPED Emergency Vehicles:

When approaching any emergency vehicle that is stopped with its red, or red and blue lights flashing, or a tow truck with its amber lights flashing in the same direction of your travel, you are required to reduce the speed of your vehicle and proceed with caution. When reducing your speed, you are required to assess the speed of the surrounding traffic and the condition of the roadway (such as fog, rain, snow etc.). To ensure safety, brake early and gradually to allow surrounding traffic to better adjust to a reduced speed and to ensure you have full control of your vehicle when braking.

When the roadway has two or more lanes of traffic in the same direction of your travel, you are required to move into a lane away from the emergency vehicle or tow truck. Reducing the speed of your vehicle and proceeding with caution, look in front and on both sides of your vehicle, checking your rear view mirrors, determine the speed of the traffic around you and condition of the roadway. Proceed to decrease your speed similar to any surrounding traffic, use your turn signal prior to making the lane change, and double check your rear view mirrors and shoulder check your blind spots to ensure no other vehicles are moving into or approaching that lane too fast. When safe to do so, change lanes well in advance of an emergency vehicle or a stopped tow truck with its flashing amber lights. Once in the lane, brake gradually and continue to reduce the speed of your vehicle when safe to do so. Be aware of any vehicles approaching fast to the rear of your vehicle.

TIPS TO REMEMBER

  • Stay alert. Avoid distractions. Keep the noise level down in your vehicle.
  • Remain calm, and do not make sudden lane changes or brake excessively.

Before changing direction or speed, consider road conditions, check surrounding traffic, use your mirrors, look to blind spots, and signal and brake early.