WEB ONLY: Laws have changes for blue flashing lights

With the more of snowfall, many people and businesses are engaged in snow removal, and  questions abound about the proper use of blue flashing lights, said OPP Constable Mark Cloes.

With changes in legislation in 2007 and the clarification of that in  the Highway Traffic Act, the government has en­acted rules governing the use of blue flashing lights and the county OPP is answering some of the most common questions surrounding the issue.

Has Ontario’s legislation changed regarding the use of blue flashing lights on motor vehicles? Yes. The Safer Roads for a Safer Ontario Act 2007 was passed June  4 2007.  Under that legislation, police service vehicles are permitted to use blue flashing lights in combination with red flashing  lights. The combination of flashing blue and red lights will help to increase visibility and public recognition of police vehicles, and protect the safety of police officers when work­ing on highways, Cloes said.

“This is especially critical when police officers are re­sponding to emergencies where they may be required to exceed speed limits, traveling in re­duced visibility due to weather or travelling through a red light.

Another question police have faced is: As a result of Bill 203 being passed, are snow re­moval vehicles still authorized to use flashing blue lights while operating on a highway?

Cloes said the answer is “Yes.  Blue flashing lights are still permitted to be used on road service vehicles that are being driven on a highway while performing winter main­tenance activities. Road ser­vice vehicles are vehicles that are being operated by, or on behalf of a municipality, and those under contract to provide win­ter maintenance operations on provincial highways, when removing snow, sanding or salting or applying chemicals  for snow and ice control.

Another question is: Are private snowplow vehicles, commonly used to clear snow from driveways, parking lots and commercial businesses auth­orized to use blue flashing lights?

Cloes said the law does not prohibit the use of blue flashing lights on private snowplow vehicles while being operated on private property.  However,  those vehicles are not permitted to use blue flashing lights while being driven on a highway.

“So if you’re out on the roadways throughout the Coun­ty of Wellington and see a flashing blue light off in the distance through the haze of  blowing snow, please slow down as it will be any of the emergency  services, police, fire, or ambulance,” Cloes said. “Or it could be one of the dozens of dedicated snow re­moval personnel, who work tirelessly at all times day  or night to keep our roadways safe and clear throughout the winter.”