B.C.'s Slow Down Move Over law

Move over for flashing lights

B.C.'s Slow Down Move Over law came into effect more than two decades ago.

When an official vehicle is stopped at the side of the highway and displaying flashing lights—red, blue or yellow—approaching traffic is required to slow down and move over. The law is meant to provide a safe workspace for the emergency and roadside workers.

What is an Official Vehicle? According to the law, section 47.01 (1):

In this Division, "official vehicle" means a vehicle that

(a) is authorized under section 4.28 to display flashes of red, blue, white or amber light

(2) Despite subsection (1), a school bus is not an official vehicle for the purposes of this Division.

Examples of official vehicles include emergency vehicles, such as police vehicles, ambulances and fire apparatus. Maintenance and utility vehicles are included too, and towing, road maintenance, public utility and roadside repair vehicles qualify under this law.

The slow down half of the Slow Down Move Over law requires overtaking motorists to slow to 70 km/h on highways posted at 80 km/h and higher and to 40 km/h in all other speed zones. Perhaps another way to think of this law would be the 70 / 40 rule, with 80 km/h being the dividing line.

The move over portion requires that, if it is safe to do so, you move your vehicle into one of the unoccupied adjacent lanes. That could mean the adjacent lane in the same direction if there are multiple lanes, or the oncoming lane if there are not. Remember, if you have to use the oncoming lane, you have no lawful excuse to encroach on it when there is oncoming traffic.

You are required to move out of the lane adjacent to the official vehicle only if it is safe to do so. If moving over would create a danger to other road users, you are only required to slow down. A violation ticket for not obeying the law could cost the offending driver $173 and three penalty points.

I have come across road maintenance vehicles parked near the roadside, with lights flashing, with the operator working well off the road where there is no danger from passing traffic. This may be from force of habit rather than conscious thought, but flashing lights should not be turned on when there is no danger present.

Police vehicle operators may also choose to move their stop to a safer location once they make their initial approach to the violator. If you are being pulled over by police using only their flashing lights but without the siren, you should choose to stop in a safe spot instead of immediately pulling over. Regardless, it is still up to approaching drivers to follow the slow down move over rules. It is your responsibility to be safe

If you read case law, the judge will often mention that is your responsibility as a driver to be able to respond safely to situations that may reasonably be encountered on the highway. A slow down move over situation is one of them.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Hydrophobic windshield treatments can help you see better while driving at night

Improved night vision

If you are like me, the worst time drive is at night in the pouring rain.

It's like driving into a wet sack of coal. When another vehicle approaches, the glare of its headlights can be blinding. Hydrophobic windshield treatments can make it easier for a driver to see well in wet weather.

A study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute concluded these windshield treatments can result in significantly improved driver visual performance.

In the study, researchers found treated glass increased drivers' visual acuity by as much as 34% and cut response time to a test target from four seconds to three seconds. A single second represents a significant margin of safety because it translates to about 17 meters at 60 km/h.

There are a number of brands of these coatings on the market, with a range of prices. They are applied to clean auto glass and repel water, causing it to bead and stream off making it easier for wipers to keep the windshield clear and for you to see.

The treatment also helps repel snow and sleet and makes it easier to scrape ice off. Applying it to LED lights can assist in keeping them clean as well.

I have tried two types. The first was a bottle costing between $5 and $10 and the second was a kit for $80.

A single treatment seemed to last me about a month and there were many re-applications in the bottle. The kit was not as generous.

The only difficulty I found was in cleaning the windshield well before applying it. The kit came with special cleaning materials and instructions for their use.

The bottle simply advised to apply to a clean windshield and the manufacturer did not answer my inquiry about proper pre-treatment cleaning.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Knowing when it's time to give up your driver's licence

Advanced driving directives

Advanced driving directives are to seniors as parent-teen driving contracts are to youth.

Both are aimed at keeping the driver out of trouble through an agreement to abide by a set of guidelines designed to keep everyone safe.

If we are lucky enough to live to an old age, and not suffer impairing health issues before then, we will all be faced with the decision to stop driving because we are no longer capable of driving safely. RoadSafetyBC says in general, we are living about 10 years past our ability to do that.

Planning ahead of time to retire from driving will make the transition easier and it will give you some control over the process.

A survey of older adults suggests about one-third of the group was comfortable with having a family member decide for them when to surrender their driver's licence. About 44% were open to having the decision made by their doctor.

Nearly two-thirds were willing to discuss the issue and an advanced driving directive or driver planning agreement can help provide a framework for that discussion.

I know through personal experience that initiating a conversation on driving ability can be a very awkward one. Who is brave enough to step forward and raise the issue with mom, dad or a good friend? Worse still, who gets to tell them that they should stop driving all together?

The directive allows the driver to designate the person they trust to do this with them. The aim of the directive is to support the driver in their quest to continue driving or stay mobile to maintain a degree of independence.

When this is no longer possible, the person designated is expected to address the issue with the driver.

Giving up something that you have enjoyed for most of your life can be very stressful, especially if you do not plan for it.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Military police have have power over civilians on military bases

Military police powers

What powers do the military police have to enforce traffic laws? Are they able to write traffic tickets to the public like the regular police do?

Every once in a while someone asks me a question I am just not prepared for. This was one of them. So I went directly to the experts and consulted the MPs at CFB Comox.

The military police have peace officer status to deal with Canadian Forces personnel at all times and all places. In addition, they have jurisdiction over all civilians when the civilian is on a “Defence establishment.” A Defence establishment is any area under the control of the Minister of Defence.

Ultimately, you could receive a traffic ticket from an MP for an infraction of the Motor Vehicle Act while on military property, but not when you are driving elsewhere in the province.

There are a number of driving offences in the Criminal Code of Canada, such as impaired, prohibited and dangerous driving or criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle.

In those cases, the military police will alert the civilian police responsible for the place where the offence occurs and maintain surveillance until the civilian police can arrive and take over.

If the situation is serious enough, the military police will take action in the form of a citizen's arrest and turn the offender over when civilian police arrive.

Yes, you have to stop for the MPs. The definition of emergency vehicle in the Motor Vehicle Act includes a vehicle driven by a member of the police branch of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces in the discharge of his or her duty.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Behind the Wheel articles

About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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