Nanaimo RCMP Const. Mitch Gordon expresses dismay and frustration at motorists who failed to slow down and make room for tow trucks at a driver education event on the Nanaimo Parkway. In just over two hours, Gordon had pulled over more than 200 drivers for failing to obey the law protecting roadside workers and emergency responders. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo RCMP pull over hundreds of drivers for failing to slow down and move over

Event schooled drivers on B.C. law that helps keep roadside emergency responders and workers safe

Hundreds of drivers were pulled aside by Nanaimo RCMP when they failed to slow down and move over for tow trucks “assisting” a vehicle on the Nanaimo Parkway.

The enforcement action Oct. 21 was part of a staged event in the southbound lanes near Northfield Road intersection rest stop. The goal was to educate motorists about their legal responsibility under B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act that when approaching emergency vehicles that are parked roadside with their emergency lights flashing, drivers must slow down and move into the fast lane if possible. The law is in place for the safety of police officers, tow truck operators, firefighters, ambulance paramedics and other personnel who respond to roadside emergencies.

From 9:45 to 11:30 a.m., police pulled over more than 200 drivers who failed to slow down or move over for the trucks from Mid Island Towing. Many of the vehicles flagged were speeding, as well.

“People don’t know what it’s like until they spend some time out here,” said Steve Blunt, a driver with Mid Island Towing, who said he has experienced numerous near-misses from vehicles speeding past while he is working on the side of the road.

Even an ambulance was warned to move over by police as it passed by the scene.

Const. Mitch Gordon, who was clocking speeds and flagging down drivers, said he was surprised at how many drivers appear to be unaware of the law.

“This has been a real eye-opener to a lot of people not realizing that a law’s been in place and how dangerous our job is, standing on the side of the road trying to preserve the lives of tow truck drivers, not just here, but all over,” said Ralph Ten Have, owner of Mid Island Towing.

Ten Have said he was not surprised by the number of drivers who were pulled over in such a short period of time. He said he has not had any of his drivers injured while working, but knows of others who have. He said he and his drivers follow all procedures and cautions to prevent getting hurt on the job.

“We’re on the side of the road … and we see this constantly,” he said. “It seems like it does not get addressed properly and it seems like this is [having] a really good impact, so people can realize how much of a problem it is.”

This week’s Slow Down Move Over event was initiated by the B.C. Automobile Association.

“There’s a lot of awareness being created … It’s important that B.C. motorists understand and realize the impact that they play in the health and safety of our roadside workers,” said Ravi Dhaliwal, BCAA senior manager of automotive operations.

The penalty for not slowing down and moving over for emergency vehicles with flashing lights is $173 plus three demerit points against a driver’s licence. However, Thursday’s event was about education, so motorists were only handed warning letters by officers and community policing volunteers, who explained the law and drivers’ legal obligations.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo RCMP’s ‘Const. Scarecrow’ watches for speeding drivers

RELATED: Worker dies in highway incident involving allegedly drunk driver
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