Drivers passing by an accident or emergency will be legally required to reduce speed, after changes to the Motor Vehicle Act were implemented to protect emergency workers.
According to the province, 21 emergency workers were injured or killed by passing vehicles, between 2001 and 2007.
Beginning June 1, drivers must slow to 70 km/h on highways where the speed limit is 80 km/h or higher when they are approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with lights flashing. That includes police, paramedics and fire services. If there is another lane going in the same direction then drivers must move over if it is safe to do so.
If the speed limit is less than 80 km/h, drivers are mandated to slow to 40 km/h.
"My colleagues and I want motorists to consider not only the new penalty, but the safety of all emergency workers as they drive past an incident," said Superintendent Norm Gaumont of RCMP B.C. Traffic Services.
The Motor Vehicle Act already requires drivers to yield the right of way and pull over for emergency vehicles with a fine of $84 for failure to yield, going up to $109 after 30 days. The same fine will apply to drivers that do not reduce speeds near emergency vehicles, and the drivers will lose three penalty points.