Drivesmart column: Emergency vehicles and traffic rules

Drivesmart column: Emergency vehicles and traffic rules

I hope that the police vehicle was really involved in a situation that required speed and stealth.

By Tim Schewe

In my travels this week I was overtaken by a marked police vehicle traveling at 110 km/h in the posted 90 km/h zone. No emergency equipment was being operated. Instances like this are often complained about by the public as they see the police failing to follow the same traffic rules that they force everyone else to obey.

So, let’s examine the rules that allow the police, fire and ambulance drivers to disobey some traffic rules and what they must do to exercise these privileges.

These privileges are granted in section 122 of the Motor Vehicle Act. It allows the driver to:

• Exceed the speed limit

• Not stop for red lights or stop signs

• Disregard rules and traffic control devices governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions

• Stop or park

This must be done with due regard for safety, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including:

• The nature, condition and use of the highway

• The amount of traffic that is on, or might reasonably be expected to be on the highway

• The nature of the use being made of the emergency vehicle at the time

The Emergency Vehicle Driving Regulation places additional conditions on the driver depending on whether or not it is a pursuit, an emergency response by a police officer or emergency response by fire or emergency medical services.

Police may respond without using emergency lights and siren to an incident where the risk of harm to the public through using emergency equipment outweighs the risk of responding without it.

In the general execution of their duties police must have reasonable and probable grounds to believe it is safe to operate without emergency equipment. This exemption does not apply in school and playground zones.

Fire apparatus and ambulances may not disobey traffic rules unless emergency lights and siren are activated with the exception of stopping, standing or parking. In that case only emergency lights are required to be used.

There is another group of road users that may disregard the rules for traffic movement. They do not apply to persons, vehicles and other equipment while actually engaged in highway or public utility, construction or maintenance work on, under or over the surface of a highway while at the site of the work.

Of course, they must execise the same care and are governed by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation for traffic control while doing so.

I hope that the police vehicle that passed me was really involved in a situation that required both speed and stealth.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There still has been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing into the deaths of Nellie Williams and Fran Shurie on Christmas Eve, 2019. Police are asking for the public’s assistance in solving the crime. This memorial, located near Trunk Road and Canada Avenue where the crime occurred, still stands at the site of the double homicide. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Investigation continues into Duncan double murder

Police ask anyone with information on Christmas Eve, 2019, crime to contact them

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Extensive water on No. 4 and 5 at the Mount Brenton Golf Course following heavy rains earlier this month. (Photo submitted)
Mount Brenton Golf Course does a booming business in 2020

A total of 15,000 more rounds played than the previous year

The memorial site for double-murder victims Nellie Williams and Fran Shurie, located in Charles Hoey Park, will be allowed to stay for another two months after the City of Duncan changed its policy on temporary memorials. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan allows temporary memorials to stay longer

Policy change related to memorial for double-homicide victims in city park

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read