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OPP to take aim at careless drivers during long weekend blitz

The Ontario Provincial Police is on the look-out for drivers who don't slow down and make way for stopped emergency vehicles this long weekend.

Over 2,000 'slow down, move over' charges laid last year

Tony Cristilli, a superintendent with the OPP, says six officers have died while helping motorists on the side of the road since 1989. (Paul Smith/CBC)

The Ontario Provincial Police will be on the lookout for drivers who don't slow down and make way for stopped vehicles this long weekend.

"Our goal is not to ticket the drivers, but to raise awareness of the issues, so hopefully, we will never have another tragedy," OPP Supt. Tony Cristilli said at a news conference Thursday. 

He told the story of "a tragic and preventable loss," on provincial highways a few weeks ago. 

"A driver was on the side of Highway 403, waiting to have his truck repaired. Another vehicle approached and slammed into the back of the parked truck, killing the gentleman."

The OPP issued over 2,000 charges to drivers breaking the slow down and move over law last year alone. The legislation was introduced 16 years ago and can carry a $400 to $2,000 fine, plus three demerit points upon conviction.

Repeat offenders can face a $1,000 to $4,000 fine, possible jail time up to six months and possible suspension of their driver's licences for up to two years.

Police and emergency response crews face an especially high risk when drivers ignore the law. Six officers have died while tending to motorists at the side of the road in the last 20 years, Cristilli said. 

Tow-truck driver Nabil Diab joined Cristilli at the news conference.

"Slow down and move over. It's just common sense," Diab said.

He told reporters the story of a friend and fellow tow-truck operator whose legs were broken when he was struck while trying to load a motorcycle onto his flatbed. 

Diab said he himself has had too many close calls.

"Once, my pylons were struck by an oncoming vehicle and almost sideswiped me," he said. "I was extremely scared and shaken up."

"I was extremely lucky, to be honest with you," Diab added as he warned drivers to obey the law.  

"You could be saving a life," he said.

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