New Brunswick

Move-over law would include tow trucks, snowplows under new bill

The law that requires drivers to move over and slow down when passing emergency vehicles stopped on the roadside could also apply to tow trucks and snowplows soon.

Provincial government proposes higher fines and other Motor Vehicle Act changes

The amendments would see the fines double for distracted drivers and drivers who pass school buses that have their lights flashing. (CBC)

The law that requires drivers to move over and slow down when passing emergency vehicles stopped on the roadside could also apply to tow trucks and snowplows soon.

"I've talked to tow truck drivers and [drivers of] utility vehicles — we've all got a story," Carl Urquhart, the minister of public safety, told reporters Tuesday.

"It's almost one of the scariest places to work right now in New Brunswick is on the side of the road when you're trying to help people." 

The expanded move-over provision was just one of the Motor Vehicle Act amendments proposed by the provincial government.

Carl Urquhart, the public safety minister, said the side of the road is one of the dangerous places to work in New Brunswick. (CBC)

The change would also set a maximum speed limit — to half the posted speed limit — for vehicles passing the crews of emergency vehicles, utility vehicles and tow trucks that have stopped on the road to work. 

Urquhart said New Brunswick would be the last Atlantic province to adopt the changes.

CAA Atlantic has been advocating an expansion of the move-over law for a couple of years.

"It's good to have tow trucks involved but we need to educate the public about whoever's on the side of the road, whether it's fire, police, ambulance or tow trucks now, that drivers need to slow down, move over and be safe," said Gary Howard, vice-president of communications at CAA Atlantic.

Gary Howard, the vice-president of communications for CAA Atlantic, said there needs to be more education about safe driving near stopped emergency and utility vehicles. (CBC)

The amendments would also double the fine, to $280, for a distracted driving offence. which would also mean five demerit points.

Penalties would also increase for passing a school bus while its lights are flashing — to a $480 fine and six demerit points. 

Andy Aker, a driver with Capital Towing, said he appreciates the inclusion of tow trucks in the move-over, slow-down law. 

"It's mostly about education. Doubling the fines, it would be nice — we would know that this is working if there were no fines … it's just a method another tool to educate people to pull over," Aker said, who's been in the business since 1988.

"It's important that we just keep this message going until it becomes a reflex."

Urquhart said he's hoping the bill will be passed by Dec. 20.

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