It may seem like common sense, but many drivers could use a reminder about Ontario’s Move Over Law. What happens when you are driving and you see the lights and hear the sirens of an oncoming emergency vehicle? Should you move over or stop? Can you quickly get out of the way, or should you assume the emergency vehicle will drive around you? Failing to yield to an emergency vehicle could result in a fine of $400-$2000, plus 3 demerit points, and that’s just for a first offence. A second offence within 5 years may cost you your license.
Your required response varies slightly depending on the type of road you are on. Here is a break down as per Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation:
On a multi-lane highway – Slow down, signal, and move to the right. You are only required to stop if it is safe to do so. This can be difficult if the road is busy, but as a general rule of thumb, navigate as far over to the right as you can.
On a two-lane road – Signal and move to the right. Position your vehicle as close to the side of the road as possible and stop, but do not obstruct intersections or side streets. It’s difficult to predict where the emergency vehicle is going to turn and you don’t want to find yourself in the way.
On a one-way street – Pull over to the right or left side of the road and stop your vehicle.
At an intersection – This situation often causes drivers the most confusion. Traffic in an intersection or approaching from all directions must yield to an emergency vehicle until it passes through the intersection. Never block the intersection. Avoid making a left turn if an emergency vehicle is approaching from behind. In this situation, the motorist should proceed straight through the intersection, then pull to the right and stop. The emergency vehicle may throw you off course for a few minutes, but this minor inconvenience could be saving someone’s life.
As always, it’s important to drive alert and avoid distractions. Don’t use headphones while you drive or listen to music at a volume that prevents you from hearing an approaching emergency vehicle. Let other drivers know your intentions. Even though everyone else is pulling over, use your signal to indicate your intentions. Once the emergency vehicle has passed, cautiously return to your lane being mindful of the other drivers around you. Did you know it’s also illegal to follow a responding emergency vehicle within 150 meters? Keep your distance and do your part to keep Ontario’s roads safe.