Police are stepping up efforts to catch and ticket drivers who don't slow down and change lanes when passing emergency vehicles on Manitoba roadways.
Last week Const. Francis Deschenes of the Nova Scotia RCMP was hit and killed by a vehicle on the Trans-Canada Highway near Memramcook, N.B. after he pulled over to help a motorist change a flat tire.
Insp. Ed Moreland with the Manitoba RCMP says the tragedy could have just as easily happened here.
"Police officers, firefighters, ambulance attendants, and tow truck drivers — we all have stories of close calls on Manitoba roadways," he said during a press event Thursday held to remind drivers of the rules. "Some Manitobans are simply not mindful of this law and it's putting all emergency services personnel who work on our highways at risk."
Moreland says if the posted speed limit is 80 km/h or higher, drivers who are passing an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing are required to slow down to 60 km/h. If the posted limit is less than 80 km/h drivers are required to reduce their speed to 40 km/h. In all cases the law requires drivers to change lanes if it's safe to do so in order to give the emergency vehicle as much space as possible.
The fine for not slowing down and moving over is $299 and two demerits.
To test how many Manitoba drivers obey the law the Moreland said force recently parked a marked police car with its lights flashing on Hwy. 59 near Birds Hill Park and waited to see how many cars slowed down and moved over.
In 30 minutes Moreland says 192 cars passed the vehicle and only 13 slowed down and changed lanes.
"This is simply not acceptable," he said.
RCMP have given out 61 tickets for the offence in the last week alone, says Moreland, who added that police will be continuing the push to catch offenders over the coming months.
"A few seconds of consideration can literally save a life," he said.