Move Over Law in Ontario: Driving Near Emergency Vehicles
Driving in Ontario is a privilege; in order to keep this privilege, you need to follow the rules.
There are several basic rules that all drivers in Ontario are familiar with: buckling up your seatbelt, stopping at red lights, obeying the set speed limits, etc.
However, there are just as many nuanced rules that many inexperienced drivers are simply unaware of — one of these driving rules is the move over law in Ontario.
If you’re not familiar with this rule and would like to learn more, be sure to continue reading.
What is the move over law in Ontario and why is it important?
The Ontario move over law — Section 159 (1,2,3) of the Highway Traffic Act — is an Ontario driving law regarding emergency vehicles.
According to Section 159 (1,2,3):
“(1) The driver of a vehicle, upon the approach of a police department vehicle with its bell or siren sounding or with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of red light or red and blue light, or upon the approach of an ambulance, fire department vehicle or public utility emergency vehicle with its bell or siren sounding or its lamp producing intermittent flashes of red light, shall immediately bring such vehicle to a standstill,
(a) as near as is practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway and parallel therewith and clear of any intersection; or
(b) when on a roadway having more than two lanes for traffic and designated for the use of one-way traffic, as near as is practicable to the nearest curb or edge of the roadway and parallel therewith and clear of any intersection.”
“(2) Upon approaching an emergency vehicle with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of red light or red and blue light or a tow truck with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of amber light that is stopped on a highway, the driver of a vehicle travelling on the same side of the highway shall slow down and proceed with caution, having due regard for traffic on and the conditions of the highway and the weather, to ensure that the driver does not collide with the emergency vehicle or tow truck or endanger any person outside of the emergency vehicle or tow truck.”
“(3) Upon approaching an emergency vehicle with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of red light or red and blue light or a tow truck with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of amber light that is stopped on a highway with two or more lanes of traffic on the same side of the highway as the side on which the emergency vehicle or tow truck is stopped, the driver of a vehicle travelling in the same lane that the emergency vehicle or tow truck is stopped in or in a lane that is adjacent to the emergency vehicle or tow truck, in addition to slowing down and proceeding with caution as required by subsection (2), shall move into another lane if the movement can be made safely..”
What does this mean?
In short, while an emergency vehicle (with its lamp on) is driving behind or towards you, you must slow down, signal, and pull over to the right-hand side of the road (if the roadway has two or more lanes). Additionally, if an emergency vehicle is stopped in the lane that you’re driving in, you need to slow down and proceed with care.
Is the move over law valid in all Canadian provinces and territories?
Yes, all Canadian provinces and territories have a move over law in place for emergency vehicles.
However, the criteria for the law range from location to location — for instance, in Alberta, drivers need to reduce their speed to 60 km per hour (or less in zones marked with a lower speed limit) and are asked to switch lanes when possible.
Be sure to reference the move over laws before travelling to a different province in Canada.
What are the fines for breaking the move over law in Ontario?
The fines for failing to move for an emergency vehicle in Ontario depend on the number of offences you have.
If you’re convicted of breaking the move over law in Ontario, you can face a fine ranging from $400 to $2,000.
If you break the move over law more than once (within a five-year period), you can face a variety of other penalties, including higher fines ($1,000 to $4,000), up to six months of jail time and lose your driver’s licence for up to two years.
How many demerit points for failing to move where possible for emergency vehicles in Ontario?
Aside from fines and the other penalties listed above, drivers can also receive three demerit points for failing to move over for emergency vehicles.
Moving over for emergency vehicles in different situations
You never know when you’re going to have to move over for an emergency vehicle. So, you need to know what to do in different situations!
Moving over for emergency vehicles on highway rules
If you need to move over for an emergency vehicle on the highway, you need to pull up to the right-hand side of the roadway without blocking the shoulder lane.
Moving over for emergency vehicles on a one-way street
If you need to move over for an emergency vehicle while driving on a one-way street and you don’t have sufficient room on the right-hand side of the road, you can move over to the left hand until the emergency vehicle has passed.
Moving over for emergency vehicles at an intersection
Do not pull over immediately if you’re at an intersection and need to move over for an emergency vehicle. Instead, continue through the intersection and then pull over on the right-hand side of the road. You may proceed once the emergency vehicle has safely passed.
Will my car insurance rates go up if I’m convicted of failing to move over for an emergency vehicle in Ontario?
Yes, if you are convicted of breaking a driving law, including the move over law, you can expect to see an increase in your car insurance rates.
This is one of the many reasons why you should always pull over for emergency vehicles when necessary.
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