Proposed bill to increase operator safety

By Caitlin Choi

Toronto, Ontario — August 8, 2012 — Supporters of a new private member’s bill say it could mean the difference between life and death.

The bill will amend the Highway Traffic Act’s move-over section to include roadside assistance vehicles in Ontario. If the legislation is passed, motorists will be accountable to the law for slowing down and moving aside for tow truck operators on the highway.

Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe North, Garfield Dunlop, introduced the private member’s bill at Queen’s Park. The bill passed first reading and will undergo second reading on Oct. 25.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to show the people in the roadside assistance sector that we see that their jobs are dangerous,” said Dunlop. “It’s an opportunity to save lives, including the customers on the roads with them.”

Conversations with the Canadian Automobile Association were in part what inspired the bill, said Dunlop. He said the CAA was strongly in favour of the amendment and what it could potentially do for public safety.

The Provincial Towing Association,Ontario also supports the move-aside motion, said PTAO representative Doug Nelson.

“We’ve had a number of tow operators killed in Ontario and badly hurt,” he said. “The public needs to be aware that they should be moving over the same for them as they have to do for the police department.”

A similar law was adopted in Quebec in June as part of Bill 57. Known as the move-over law, it forces drivers to slow down and leave room between their own vehicles and the vehicles of security personnel, including ambulances, police, firefighters and tow-truck operators.

Under the Quebec law, violators are liable to fines of $200 to $300 and four demerit points. The measure officially came into effect on August 5, 2012.

Similar laws exist in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and 39 U.S.states.

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