Move over, NL: St. John’s tow operator

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador — September 23, 2015 –– Motorists in Newfoundland and Labrador need to brush up on the province’s Move Over law, according to the manager of a St. John’s towing company.

CBC News reports Avalon Towing’s Bob Rice estimates only 15 to 20 percent of drivers obey the legislation put in place to protect roadside workers–including emergency and enforcement, tow truck and roadside assistance operators, search and rescue and public utility personnel, as well as municipal, provincial or federal enforcement or service workers.

“We’re finding it hasn’t been very effective,” Rice told CBC Radio’s The St. John’s Morning Show, adding that there’s a need for more widespread education of the law, which came into effect March 10, 2014.

Under the legislation, drivers must slow down and move to an adjacent lane when passing a designated emergency vehicle with its lights flashing.

Rice, like many in the profession, has encountered his share of close calls. While it’s less of an issue on city streets, the majority of motorists refusing to obey the law and give him room to work along the province’s highways routinely puts him in danger.

“The left-hand lane can be open but still the people stay in the right-hand lane,” says Rice, who says a four or five foot buffer is ideal. “I try to acknowledge the people that are obeying this law with a head nod or a hand gesture.”

Although Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers are usually at collisions sites and are on hand to assist with oncoming traffic, Rice says responding to calls for tire changes or tows tend to leave him vulnerable.

“If possible, move over,” he told CBC. “We’re no match for a couple thousand pounds coming at us, we’re only bone and tissue.”

Drivers found in violation of the law face fines ranging from $300 to $900 and four demerit points.

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