Quebec roadside workers launch safety campaign

Lachute, Quebec — September 24, 2015 — Emergency responders are reminding Quebec motorists to give them room to work on the province’s roadways.

The Review reports that more than 2,000 tickets were issued last year to drivers in violation of the Move Over law, prompting roadside workers to take action and help spread awareness of the legislation designed to protect them.

Over 30 emergency responders gathered on September 10, parking their vehicles along Bethany Avenue in Lachute, Quebec, to educate the public on the law that stipulates drivers slow down and move to an adjacent lane if possible when passing emergency vehicles with their lights flashing.

The group, made up of members from the Quebec Provincial Police (SQ), the Lachute Fire Department, the Quebec Ministry of Transport, local towing companies and paramedics, put the focus on reminding drivers that ignoring the law routinely puts lives at risk.

“People will use profane gestures and curse us as we pass them on our way to an emergency. What if it is your sister or mother we are going to treat? It’s not just our lives, it’s the people we are trying to help,” says Mario Beaudoin, who has spent over three decades working as a paramedic. He told the Review that impatient drivers routinely zip by accident scenes, despite flares, his flasher, his fluorescent yellow uniform and his size.

It’s the same story for Quebec Ministry of Transport patroller Serge Lesieur, who says he often fears for his safety when tasked with repairing roads, cleaning up accident sites or removing roadkill from the highways. Having experienced more than a few close calls—including passing cars ripping off his truck mirror and scrapping the paint off his vehicle—he says his crew is most at risk when they are alone or joined by a tow truck.

“When we are accompanied by the SQ, there is a big difference,” Lesieur said in the report, adding he thinks drivers may not realize that tow trucks and transport vehicles are protected under the law.

“Almost every day we talk about this at work, because there are a lot of problems. It has become so frequent that we are almost used to it,” he says. “We talk to the police about it, but when they aren’t there, they can’t really help.”

It’s an issue SQ officer Audrey-Anne Bilodeau can attest to.

“When the other road workers and emergency responders intervene with us, they say it’s totally different,” Bilodeau told the Review. “People fear getting a ticket and there is also a percentage of people who don’t really know how the law works.

But, Bilodeau points out, even the SQ are not immune to the dangers of working roadside. It was the death of a police officer, struck and killed while responding to an accident, that pushed the province’s implementation of the law three years ago.

“This law, it’s really there to save the lives of people who are working to save others,” says Bilodeau.

Violation of the Move Over law can result in a fine of $200 to $300 and a penalty of 4 demerit points

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