Slow Down, Move Over, Unintended Consequences

With the amendment last month of B.C.'s Slow Down, Move Over law comes the unintended consequences of the misuse of flashing lights. Since yesterday afternoon I've driven past two situations that the law required me to slow down and move over for that had nothing to do with protecting workers on or beside the highway. Unless the operators of vehicles equipped with flashing lights exercise some common sense the law may have to be amended again to deal with misuse.

The first situation involved a flat deck truck driver who parked on the shoulder, turned on his flashing yellow lights and ran across the highway to a service station and convenience store. If passing traffic needed to be warned, four way hazard flashers would have been a better choice. Taking this thought one step further, if passing traffic needed to be warned, this driver should have found a safer place to park before making his convenience store run.

The second incident was a worker whose vehicle was stopped a couple of vehicle widths to the right of the paved shoulder. The yellow light on the roof flashed as he worked in an electrical box that controlled the weigh scale directional sign even further off of the highway. Unless there was something else being done that I could not see, this worker and his vehicle were at no risk from passing traffic and the yellow flashing light should not have been used.

I know what working at the roadside is like and I am happy to slow down and move over for those situations that need it. Experience has also shown me that many drivers routinely ignore flashing lights. If they are to be meaningful and disobedience successfully enforced, flashing light users should carefully consider the need before flipping the switch to turn them on.

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Submitted by E-mail

My son in law is an ex-tow truck driver and this has been a hot topic for years now. I live in Surrey and twice in the last little while I have seen municipal trucks going down the road with their flashing ambers still going. The driver obviously forgot to turn them off when he or she started driving again.

Slow Down, Move Over, Unintended Consequences

It's unfortunate that there is no law or rule that is enforced forcing slow drivers out of the left lane. Obviously, this is an issue with construction workers so the law came into effect and it's not a bad thing.

Having to drive to Surrey twice a day if not more, I can honestly say that once you cross the bridge into Surrey, the temperment, behavior of people, pedestrians, drivers, etc. is like you're in a different world. Very rabid in many ways and folks have no respect for each other, nevermind the laws of the road. It's everyone for themselves.  It's truly a nightmare to travel through Surrey and many others feel the same way. There's even a Facebook page about all the craziness that goes on in Surrey.

Your article implies that the

Your article implies that the 4 way hazards do not constitute "flashing lights" as referenced in this section of the act.  Is that true?  Do the lights need to be of a strobe design?

As for the worker with the van, it's quite likely that company policy or worksafe rules require the use of the flashing light when the worker is working in the vicinity of the vehicle.  Unfortunately, many parts of the MVA do not allow for driver discretion (take speed for example) and this is just another example of that.  It's not up to the driver to make the decision, it's up to the driver to slow down and move over. 


Flashing Lights

I have another pet peave regarding the use of flashing lights.  Plow operaters who have their rotating and alternating lights flashing when they are doing neither plowing or sanding. Wake up guys, how do you expect the public to know whether or not you are plowing or sanding if you ignore the regulations set out regarding the use of these lights. Don't tell me you forgot to shut them off as there is a pilot light near the switch that indicates you have these lights on.

Also load lights and back-up lights that are left on when travelling down the highway is illegal, SHUT them off.

Too right.

It's unfortunate that there is no law or rule that is enforced forcing slow drivers out of the left lane.

For sure.  And the fact is that Section 151 of the Motor Vehicle Act - Driving on laned roadway - was amended with the addition of (g) if a traffic control device directs slow moving traffic to use a designated lane, must when driving slowly drive the vehicle in that lane only in the late 1990's, in order to ensure that those "KEEP RIGHT Except To Pass" signs were actually enforceable.

But so far, it would appear that the cops haven't read the MVA lately, or have decided that this primary trigger of road rage isn't their problem? 

It's a Long Story

Signs are always enforceable when they are black on white and direct a driver to do something.

Obeying traffic controls

125  Unless otherwise directed by a peace officer or a person authorized by a peace officer to direct traffic, every driver of a vehicle and every pedestrian must obey the instructions of an applicable traffic control device.

151(g) might be best used where there are slow vehicle pullouts and signs directing slow moving vehicles to use them.

As for enforcement, I always chose what was to my mind the most dangerous behaviour. To me, the driver in the left lane one meter off the back bumper of a vehicle travelling at the speed limit deserved a ticket more than the driver doing the speed limit, so that's what I did. Now, if he held back for sufficient time to allow that vehicle to move out of the way and it didn't, well then I might consider slower traffic failing to keep right.

Right or wrong, I didn't see it as my job to clear the way for someone to disregard the speed limit.


I think we're on the same page, but at a different paragraph.

151(g) might be best used where there are slow vehicle pullouts and signs directing slow moving vehicles to use them.

Well, as annoying as it can be to be one of the pack crawling along the highway behind some bozo in a Winnebago en route to Tofino or wherever, while wishing for a cop to haul the guy over for ignorantly ignoring these directives, I would question whether a pullout would fall under the legal description of a traffic lane - and that's what Section 151 is about.  Laned traffic.

And while I totally agree with you about choosing to target 'the most dangerous behaviour', Section 151 has nothing to do with speed limits; if the overall 'flow' of a pack of traffic in a 80 km/h zone is actually 92 km/h, so that somebody who is driving in the left lane at 80 km/h (in obeyance to that particular law) is causing those behind to bunch up behind and/or move into the right lane to get past them and help maintain the general flow, then their behaviour is still illegal, to my mind; and quite possibly more dangerous.

It's important to note that those "KEEP RIGHT Except To Pass" signs are only ever used on highways and freeways in BC; there are some who seem to think that this 'rule' applies on any boulevard, parkway, or avenue with more than one lane - it doesn't, and can only be applied where those signs exist.

150 (2) should still apply as

150 (2) should still apply as a "keep right except to pass" rule despite no signs being posted.

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