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There is no such thing as a “routine” traffic stop.

An officer has to exit the police vehicle, approach a driver with little information about that person and has to do so while vehicles whip past at highway speeds. So much can go wrong.

When a person is struck by a vehicle travelling 80 kilometres an hour, there is almost no chance of survival. At 45 kilometres an hour, a person has a 50% chance of survival. At 30 kilometres an hour, there is a 90% chance a person will survive. Slowing down can mean the difference between life or death.

Today, the RCMP simulated the safe way to pass an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. Then, to experience what officers and other emergency personnel encounter roadside, the RCMP set up a scenario that allowed those in attendance to see what the officer sees, to be in the officer’s position when a car comes close to them while they are outside of their vehicle.

“We do all we can to keep officers safe when they are conducting traffic stops,” said Inspector Ed Moreland, Officer in Charge of Traffic Services for the Manitoba RCMP. “Our officers are trained to park partially overlapped with the stopped vehicle in order to create a safety pocket. This is done so that the police car will be hit before an officer is. However, with the high speeds motorists are travelling, officers do get hit, and the results can be tragic. That is why we are here today.”

If the speed limit is 80 kilometres an hour or higher, motorists must slow to 60 km/h. If the speed limit is 79 km/h or lower, they must slow to 40 km/h. On a two-way highway, motorists must wait and only pass the emergency vehicle when it is safe to do so. If it is a highway with two or more lanes in the same direction, motorists must move to the far lane.

The Slow Down, Move Over law came into effect under the Highway Traffic Act 109.1(2) in 2011. It is a $299 fine and two driver safety rating points for the infraction. In 2017, RCMP have charged more than 400 people under this legislation.