The “move over” law was enacted in Ontario back in 2003. Sections 159(2) and (3) of the Highway Traffic Act require drivers to slow down and proceed with caution when approaching an emergency vehicle on the side of the highway with its lights on. If it can be done safely and there is more than one lane of travel, the driver must vacate the lane adjacent to the emergency vehicle.
When a driver fails to slow down and/or move over, he or she could be fined up to $2,000 and three demerit points for a first offence. For each subsequent offence, the fine will be no less than $1,000 and no more than $4,000. The driver could also face a jail term of up to 6 months and a licence suspension of up to two years.
Despite being enacted over 10 years ago, hundreds of drivers continue to be completely unaware or simply non-compliant with this law. Since January 2015, the Ontario Provincial Police have ticketed over 700 motorists for ignoring the “move over” law.
Failing to move over for emergency vehicles puts emergency workers, and those stopped by or in need of emergency workers, in serious danger. Since 1989, 5 Ontario Provincial Police officers have been killed in roadside accidents. The most recent police officer to be killed on the roadside was in 2000. Many more have been injured in roadside accidents.
It is very important to stay alert and avoid distractions while driving. If you see an emergency vehicle with its lights on at the side of the road, stay calm, slow down, and do not make any sudden maneuvers. Before you change lanes, consider the road conditions and the surrounding traffic. Use your mirrors to check your blind spots and signal and brake accordingly. If we all adhere to the “move over” law, our roadways and our emergency workers will be that much safer.