Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris is proposing new legislation and it is all about safety.
With the Slow Down, Move Over campaign, Harris hopes to expand the current safety laws surrounding vehicles with flashing lights, to include snowplows and waste management vehicles.
Currently, provincial law states that drivers have to slow down and move over when there are emergency vehicles with their lights flashing on the roads. The law was rewritten a few years ago to include roadside assistance vehicles, like tow trucks, and now, Harris wants to include a few extra vehicles in there.
He was in Waterloo late last month along with members of the Ontario Waste Management Association, the Ontario Road Building Association and the Bluewater Recycling Association to launch the initiative. The announcement fell on the National Day of Mourning, honouring the deaths and injuries sustained by workers while they were on the job. Harris wants to limit the number of names that get added to that list.
“While stats are not available on injuries and fatalities, there have been many high profile incidents across North America and we feel that if this is put in place, it is just another thing we can do to make sure that people going to work are going to come home at the end of the day,” he said, adding that similar laws are already in place in other locations. “In fact, this is already done in British Columbia and many of the U.S. states, so we feel that it is high time. It is about catching up.”
Harris said he doesn’t want to hear any more stories about near-misses, or injuries in the waste management field, or in the winter when snowplows hit the streets.
“It is something that both industries have seen an unfortunate increase in whether it be near-misses, or incidents on our roadways, including our highways, when it comes to winter and the snow plow vehicles, down to through the week, when those guys head out into our residential neighbourhoods to pick up our recycling and garbage,” he said. “There are more and more close calls and I think, especially with vehicles that have a flashing light on them, most will slow down and move over, but I often see on our highways when police have a car pulled over, many vehicles still not moving over and slowing down. It is scary. When vehicles are out there plowing snow, there are other vehicles that are trying to pass them and I have heard some pretty scary stories, which led me to agree to table this legislation and see where it goes.”
While the proposed legislation isn’t up for debate yet, Harris said the legislature has set precedent by adding amendments governing cars on the road.
“I just debated the rare disease bill, so my slot isn’t going to come up for a bit, but that doesn’t mean that the government can’t adopt this as they have done in the past. My colleague, Garfield Dunlop, brought forward the same initiative extending the provisions to roadside assistance vehicles and the government adopted that in the most recent highway traffic act bill. We are hopeful that even though my bill slot isn’t coming for a little bit, that the government would agree that this is a good idea and implement it.”