OPP warns motorists: crackdown coming for failure to slow past emergency vehicles

The OPP is adopting a zero-tolerance pol­icy when it comes to provincial legislation that calls for motorists to slow down and, where possible and practical, to move over when passing an emergency vehicle parked at the side of the road with its lights flashing.

“This legislation has been in effect since 2003,” Commis­sioner Julian Fantino said. “There has been significant media coverage about it, the Ministry of Transportation has included information on the law in driver’s licence renew­als, and the OPP reminds mot­or­ists of the law every time we issue a media release on traffic issues.

“It’s about time motorists start obeying the law. I experienced a situation first hand recently when I was almost hit after I stopped a vehicle along Highway 401 on my way back from Tillsonburg. This is a safety issue for offi­cers and other emergency first-responders as they go about their jobs. There will be no warnings; violators will get a ticket every time.”

To increase officer and public safety, Ontario’s High­way Traffic Act requires motorists when approaching a police, fire, or ambulance vehi­cle stopped with its emergency lights flashing in the same direction of travel, either in a lane or on the shoulder of a road or highway, to slow down and pass with caution.

If the road has two or more lanes, the motorist must move over into another lane, if it can be done safely. If a motorist can’t move over, they must slow down to a reasonable speed.

The fine for a first offence ranges from $400 to $2,000, plus three de­merit points upon conviction, and possible sus­pen­sion of the driver’s licence for up to two years. Subsequent offences (within five years) bring fines of $1,000 to $4,000, possible jail time up to six months and possible suspen­sion of the driver’s licence for up to two years.

Since 1989, five OPP offi­cers have been killed on pro­vincial highways while parked at the side of the road. At least six OPP officers have been involved in incidents in the past year where they were either hit by a vehicle or their cruiser was hit while they were parked on the side of the road, with their lights activated.

“Officers put their lives on the line every time they report for duty,” Fantino said. “However, there is no reason why they should have to worry about being seriously injured or killed while making a routine traffic stop.”