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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Move Over Manitoba

Here's the story from Canada's Winnipeg Sun:

The Manitoba government is set to introduce legislation tomorrow that would make it illegal to pass a working tow truck on a highway without changing lanes or slowing down.

Transportation Minister Steve Ashton will introduce an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act tomorrow that will include tow trucks and other designated service vehicles in the legislation that already includes police cars, fire trucks and ambulances.

The move is in response to a "Move Over Manitoba" campaign initiated by CAA Manitoba earlier this year.

"We're really happy. Tow truck drivers are our most important assets and their safety is our top priority," said Samantha Charran, a spokeswoman for CAA Manitoba. "We're really pleased the government is moving forward with this important piece of legislation."

"When people's lives are on the line every day you can't do it fast enough," Charran said.

Under the current Highway Traffic Act, drivers can be fined up to $278 if they fail to safely pass an emergency vehicle stopped at the side of the road. On a multi-lane highway, that means changing lanes when possible, or if not, slowing down significantly while passing the emergency vehicle.

Drivers on single-lane highways are expected to stop behind the emergency vehicle and pass slowly once it is safe to do so.

Charran said about 100 drivers are ticketed in Manitoba every year for failing to safely pass emergency vehicles, a category that will now include tow trucks and other service vehicles as a result of the new law.

Several other provinces and states already have such laws in place, often as a result of a lobbying campaign that began as a result of a tragedy.

Charran said CAA began the Manitoba campaign in order to prevent tragedy from happening here.

"It was a public awareness campaign to let people know about the dangers faced by tow truck drivers," she said.

The campaign, which also involved all the towing companies in the province, as well as their families and customers, saw more than 1,000 people send electronic and printed postcards to former transportation minister Ron Lemieux this fall.

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