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Behind-the-Wheel

Dear Cop - Emergency Vehicles

My concern is the lack of respect drivers seem to display in respect to emergency vehicles. On my way home from work yesterday, I encountered an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens flashing. I was traveling from Ziprick towards Hollywood and the emergency vehicle was coming from the Hollywood direction towards the hospital. My understanding is that all vehicles must pull to the right and allow the vehicle to pass. I always pull over no matter which lanes the emergency vehicle is in. Yesterday I did so and several vehicles pulled out and passed me.

My question is: does this apply to both lanes of traffic or only to the lanes in which the emergency vehicle is proceeding?

I shall first write about the definition of an "emergency vehicle". An "emergency vehicle" means any of the following:
(a) a motor vehicle, or cycle carrying rescue or first aid equipment if there is an urgent emergency justifying a rate of speed in excess of any maximum rate of speed provided for in this Act
(b) a motor vehicle, or cycle, driven by a member of a fire department in the discharge of his or her duties
(c) a motor vehicle, or cycle, driven by a peace officer, constable or member of the police branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the discharge of his or her duty

As per Section 177 of the Motor Vehicle Act, on the immediate approach of an emergency vehicle giving an audible signal by a bell, siren or exhaust whistle, and showing a visible flashing red light, except when otherwise directed by a peace officer, a driver must yield the right of way, and immediately drive to a position parallel to and as close as possible to the nearest edge or curb of the roadway, clear of an intersection, and stop and remain in that position until the emergency vehicle has passed. This means vehicles in both directions. However, if the roadway has a divided cement median it may not be necessary to pull over and stop if the emergency vehicle is traveling in the opposite direction.
Failure to comply with this law carries a fine of $109 and 3 points.

Second question: Are red lights on Springfield from Ziprick to Hollywood Road optional??? Drivers using this corridor seem to think so!! I have encountered numerous vehicles speeding up the minute the light turns red and traveling through. All I can say is thank goodness most drivers wait that extra few seconds.

Linda Baird

Answer From Dear Cop
As per Section 128 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act, when a yellow light alone is exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal, following the exhibition of a green light, the driver of a vehicle approaching the intersection and facing the yellow light must cause it to stop before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, before entering the intersection, unless the stop cannot be made in safety.

As per Section 129 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act, when a red light alone is exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal, the driver of a vehicle approaching the intersection and facing the red light must cause it to stop before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, before entering the intersection, and subject to the provisions of subsection (3), must not cause the vehicle to proceed until a traffic control signal instructs the driver that he or she is permitted to do so.
3) Despite subsection (1), and except when a right turn permitted by this subsection is prohibited by a sign at an intersection, the driver of a vehicle facing the red light, and which in obedience to it is stopped as closely as practicable to a marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, as closely as practicable to the intersection, may cause the vehicle to make a right turn, but the driver must yield the right of way to all pedestrians and vehicles lawfully proceeding as directed by the signal at the intersection.

I understand your despair with the yellow and red light violators. Intersections attribute to the largest amount of collisions in the Kelowna area. It seems that local and visiting drivers are hoping to get pulled over and issued a violation ticket. Both of the violations carry a fine of $167 and 2 points. To all late light runners, remember to practice patience at intersections and you will get to your destination intact.


Constable R.A.(Richard) ASELTON
Central Okanagan Traffic Services - Media Liaison


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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

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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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