May 9 is National Slow Down and Move Over Day. It commemorates the law that protects all roadside assistance and emergency response employees while they're helping a driver in a potentially dangerous situation.
"Every day when people go into the office, or work from home, we know what the safety of ourselves is," said Teresa Di Felice, assistant vice president and government and community relations for CAA South Central Ontario. "In this case, whether it's a tow truck or even fire, ambulance, and police, working at the side of the road, that is your workplace. The Slow Down and Move Over laws were really brought in to protect those workers."
The roadside assistance company is commemorating the day by announcing a partnership with HAAS Alert. It adds an audible warning to certain navigation apps, warning them of a stopped car ahead.
"We're really trying to get across that there's actually an urgent situation and people might be in and around their cars on the side of the road," said Di Felice. "We have a lot of drivers who are getting out of their vehicle when they're stopped and not really thinking about where they're getting out and that they could be in an oncoming lane of traffic."
Currently, the alert system is available on Waze and in navigation systems in vehicles covered by Stellantis Group OEM. This includes Dodge, Jeep, RAM, Chrysler, and Alfa Romeo.
The Slow Down and Move Over law cites drivers must slow down and move over when approaching an emergency vehicle or tow truck with flashing lights. This includes public utility vehicles as well.
"CAA wants to remind people that tow trucks are part of this law. We did a survey last year and we see that people have a pretty good grasp and are slowing down when it comes to the police, fire, and ambulance. But it drops significantly when it comes to tow trucks," De Felice said.
Di Felice added that dozens of tow truck drivers are killed by oncoming traffic every year.
"This ties it into a convenient way to say hey, it's not that there's something on the road, there's actually a law and this is the action that you can do to keep yourself and everybody safe," she added.
If convicted and this is the first offence, drivers can be fined anywhere from $400 to $2000 and receive three demerit points. It's possible the motorist's driver's license can be suspended for up to two years.
If it's a subsequent offence, within five years, the fines range from $1000 to $4000, with three demerit points, possible license suspension of up to two years, and possible jail time.
"We have some of Canada's busiest highways and this is people's workplace. Just like you have the ability to know where your emergency exits and those types of things are, we need to give people a safe place to work," De Felice said.