Changes in Traffic Laws Catch Blogger Unaware


One of the things that irritates me about life in the 21st century is the constant evolution of laws and regulations designed to improve public safety, and protect people from unsafe practices. In 2018 the British Columbia government changed traffic laws related to how drivers are supposed to react when seeing flashing lights at the side of the road or highway.

I thought I knew the laws regarding flashing emergency lights or a siren from an emergency vehicle. I always do my best to move over to the side of the road, and generally get out of the way of an emergency vehicle when I see one coming up behind me in traffic. I had no idea that my obligations as a driver far exceed this simple behaviour. I always intend to obey traffic laws, within reason, and within safe driving practices on the road. But this new law catches me by surprise, although perhaps it shouldn’t.

Overview

In British Columbia, motorists are required to slow down and move over for all vehicles stopped alongside the road that have flashing red, blue or yellow lights. This includes maintenance workers, utility workers, police, fire, ambulance, tow trucks, Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement personnel, land surveyors, animal control workers, garbage collectors and other roadside workers.

Motorists must slow their speed to:

70km/h when in an 80km/h or over zone

40km/h when in an under 80km/h zone

If travelling on a multi-lane road, drivers must move into another lane to pass when passing stopped vehicles with a flashing light, where safe to do so. This provides roadside workers and emergency personnel with greater protection from accident and injury.

Rules and Penalties

Drivers failing to adjust their speed or failing to move over may receive a $173 traffic violation ticket that also carries 3 penalty points. Offences and infractions that include penalty points can lead to a driving prohibition.

This really sucks! Truthfully, when the young police office pulled me over I genuinely thought he was just being an ass, and had pulled me over for no real reason, just to be a smart mouth, not because I had committed an offense. I was so sure he was wrong I told him that I would meet him in court, and fight this wrongful ticket, which will cost me $173 and add three points to my driver’s license.

Unfortunately I was totally in the wrong, in this case, and the young whippersnapper police officer was totally right. So I guess I’ll hang my head and admit that I’m wrong about this, and just pay up.

But that doesn’t actually resolve the issue for me, because it begs the question as to how many other traffic laws have changed without me noticing. How many other people have missed out on knowing the changes in regulations and laws, which could cost them money, and perhaps put other people at risk because they don’t know the law.

There are thousands of new laws and regulations brought into effect in every jurisdiction every year. How in the hell does anybody know what’s illegal or not. Even if you spend every day in the library studying legislation and regulations you still wouldn’t know all of the important laws, let alone the minor irritants and misdemeanors.

23 thoughts on “Changes in Traffic Laws Catch Blogger Unaware

  1. Ditto to your last 2 paragraphs.

    I might add……our changing lives are so busy in every aspect of work, community and technology. No one in a million years could ever keep up with everything, every day and the reality is how are you meant to know everything about everything. We humans are not robots or computers.

    We are human and no one is perfect.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. You actually are not “in the wrong.” If the laws are changed, then it is appropriate for all licensed motorists to receive notification of the changes before they go into effect. One should question why these things are not made clear by a pamphlet in the mail or some other means. It suggests that citizens need to be prepared to suffer consequences for any arbitrary law the state creates. Suddenly, you are being fined and charged for a “crime”, but there is no victim besides you.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I read of a lady in Calgary who got a $350 (or so) ticket for the same new law about slowing down when passing police/tow trucks etc. I think it came into effect in Alberta the same time as in BC. They were so bad at publicizing it, that the first time most people had heard of this new, expensive law, was reading an article about her experience in the newspaper.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’m sorry you got a ticket! There is a very similar law here in North Carolina and I got a ticket for it, but it was over $400! The police officer had set up a trap outside of my kid’s school and was handing out tickets right and left to violators. I had passed the police vehicle in the lane closest to the police officer while their lights were on (I thought he was just a school guard). I had slowed down but apparently, I was also supposed to change into the other lane (which was difficult to do).

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Their excuse would be, that ignorance is not an excuse from the law. But, something like that deserves some sort of public announcement. If too many people knew the rules they would never make money.The least they could do is provide notice to the taxpayers.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. That flashing light law was instigated in New York state in January of 2019 or 2018 and for months before all the highways had those digital signs that the law was being implemented, so we had a proper heads up. There are still some digital signs that display that.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Florida prepared us by posting digital signs here too. It was all over the news and we received alerts on our phones. There’s plenty of other things Florida is not good at but there are so many visitors they want to keep people safe. Sorry you had to learn the hard way.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Our legislation in SK changed too but it was right after a flag person, a young pregnant lady was hit at a road side construction and I believe a tow truck driver too. So it was all over the news. Personally I believe that the agenda is all about money and not so much about our safety. Where I live; well nearby where I live, the police department has a fancy new line up of squad cars. This fact makes me ponder the question, why? We don’t have any car chases and the ones that I have heard of were never caught. When I am cruising home at 100k and my highway is almost completely clear, aside from 2 cars one that passes me and the other in the opposite direction. I really question “why I have to drive sooo slow?” It would be perfectly safe at 120km dare I say 130km and at those speeds my car would be taken away. Eek!The fine is bad but the points are double what the fine is and for what?
    When I see police I get scared, even if I have no reason to be. Somehow over time the purpose of police has become jaded. That’s my opinion from my experiences I just don’t feel like they would really protect me. And it’s all about running a lucrative business. Ty great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I live in the US and in North Carolina when you prepare and test for your drivers license you aren’t even told about the laws of the road, except about school buses. You learn how many points you will get for DUIs and the traffic signs. But that is it. So I fully expect one day to meet the American version of your young whippersnapper and face the same problem because I have broken some law I didn’t even know about. A good solution to changing laws though would be to send a letter out to all carriers of licenses so they know the new laws.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This was very interesting to know. A friend recently told me a similar story about a Texas law that requires the these measures. Her son was told he did not slow down enough although slowed down and tried to move over when passing workers on the highway.
    I need to review the law in my own state to make sure I follow the rules. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. I really like your beautiful blog. A pleasure to come stroll on your pages. A great discovery and a very interesting blog. I will come back to visit you. Do not hesitate to visit my universe. See you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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