Nova Sco­tians not get­ting the mes­sage about Move Over

RCMP ticket more than 60 mo­torists for not mov­ing over or slow­ing down

The Amherst News - - NEWS - By Dar­rell Cole dar­rell.cole@amher­st­ twit­ter: @AdN­dar­rell

Two weeks ago, RCMP tick­eted 24 mo­torists in the Amherst area for fail­ing to com­ply with the prov­ince’s move over leg­is­la­tion. More than 40 re­ceived tick­ets in the An­napo­lis Val­ley three days ear­lier.

On Wednesday, RCMP in Pic­tou County handed out 11 tick­ets in just two hours.

This oc­curred two months af­ter Amherst RCMP of­fi­cer Const. Frank Desch­enes was struck and killed on the Trans-Canada High­way near Mem­ram­cook, N.B. while help­ing a mo­torist change a tire.

It has some won­der­ing if peo­ple are aware of the leg­is­la­tion and its pur­pose.

“It’s al­ways been a prob­lem and con­tin­ues to be one,” Const. Chad Mor­ri­son of RCMP Traf­fic Ser­vices said. “I don’t know why peo­ple aren’t get­ting the mes­sage. I think we have to paint a pic­ture as to why it is that we need our space and what an of­fi­cer is go­ing through when he or she makes a traf­fic stop.”

Un­der the 2010 leg­is­la­tion, mo­torists must re­duce their ve­hi­cle’s speed to 60 km/h, or the posted speed limit (which­ever is the lesser of the two) when passing an emer­gency ve­hi­cle stopped on the side of the high­way with its emer­gency lights on.

Mo­torists are also re­quired to change lanes to the lane fur­thest from the stopped emer­gency ve­hi­cle if the lane is free and it’s safe to do so.

There are sig­nif­i­cant fines for break­ing the ‘Move Over’ law, rang­ing from $352.50 to $2,442.50.

What hap­pened to Desch­enes is fresh in ev­ery of­fi­cer’s mind when they make a traf­fic stop. Of­fi­cers want to ex­pect every­one to abide by the law, but can’t.

Mor­ri­son, who works in the Hal­i­fax area, said it’s im­por­tant for po­lice to be able to fo­cus on the ve­hi­cle they’re stop­ping rather than if it’s safe to get out of their ve­hi­cle be­cause they no idea what sit­u­a­tion they could po­ten­tially be deal­ing with when ap­proach­ing a ve­hi­cle they’ve stopped.

“There’s a mis­con­cep­tion out there that a traf­fic stop is very rou­tine and that of­fi­cers are stop­ping dozens of cars ev­ery day. While that is true, there is an un­known that comes with mak­ing a traf­fic stop. You don’t nec­es­sar­ily know who’s in that ve­hi­cle or what their in­ten­tions are. The ma­jor­ity of stops we do go smoothly but there’s the pos­si­bil­ity in ev­ery stop that some­thing could go wrong and the of­fi­cer needs to be fo­cused on that ve­hi­cle and its oc­cu­pants.

“When you add in the fact you have traf­fic whizzing by you it dis­tracts you and di­vides your at­ten­tion. It means you’re now vul­ner­a­ble to the peo­ple in the ve­hi­cle as well as the passing traf­fic and you’re not fo­cus­ing enough of your at­ten­tion on any­thing.”

Re­tired RCMP of­fi­cer Paul Calder, who was se­ri­ously in­jured in a 2001 crash out­side Amherst, has long been ad­vo­cat­ing for more aware­ness of the law. He re­cently wrote Nova Sco­tia’s trans­porta­tion min­is­ter Lloyd Hines ask­ing the govern­ment to erect sig­nage on ma­jor high­ways re­mind­ing mo­torists to slow down and move over.

Calder wants to see sig­nage sim­i­lar to ones he saw in Al­berta last year re­mind­ing mo­torists of the slow down and move over laws there.

A re­sponse from the de­part­ment said there are no plans to change its sig­nage pol­icy on 100-se­ries high­ways.

“Sig­nage on Nova Sco­tia’s 100-se­ries high­ways is typ­i­cally lim­ited to reg­u­la­tory, warn­ing and guide signs. Re­search has shown signs have lim­ited ef­fect in chang­ing driver be­hav­iour and can lead to driver dis­trac­tion and sign clut­ter,” Mike Croft, man­ager of traf­fic en­gi­neer­ing and road safety for Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture Re­newal, said in a let­ter to Calder.


Af­ter lay­ing more than 60 charges in Cum­ber­land County and in the An­napo­lis Val­ley un­der the prov­ince’s Move Over law Nova Sco­tia RCMP are urg­ing peo­ple to slow down and move over when ap­proach­ing a ve­hi­cle with its emer­gency lights flash­ing.

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