New rules would better protect emergency and other roadside workers by setting lower speed limits for motorists as they pass emergency or other designated vehicles stopped or working on a highway, said Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.
Under the plan, there would be a reduced speed limit of 40 km/h on highways where there is a normal speed limit of less than 79 km/h, when passing emergency or designated vehicles stopped or working on the highway, with their beacons flashing, Ashton said. These vehicles include tow trucks and vehicles used by government enforcement officers. Where the normal speed limit is 80 km/h or more, the reduced speed limit would be 60 km/h.
Current rules require motorists to proceed with caution when approaching emergency vehicles on their side of a highway. The new rules would also require drivers to slow down and proceed with caution when approaching an emergency or designated vehicle working on either side of the highway, unless it is a divided highway, the minister said.
In situations where traffic is flowing in two directions on an undivided highway, the new rules would clearly improve safety as vehicles are required to slow down, regardless of their direction of travel, Ashton said. This is similar to the requirement for motorists to stop for a school bus that has a warning device operating, regardless of direction of travel on an undivided highway.
In addition, the new rules would authorize firefighters to control traffic during emergencies and at collision scenes when the police are not at the scene, or under the direction of a police officer.