Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane is calling for highway signage warning of the move over law and Sept. 12 to be First Responder Road Safety Awareness Day.
The interim Progressive Conservative leader tabled her bill in legislature Tuesday in honour of RCMP Const. Francis ‘Frankie’ Deschênes, who was killed last Sept. 12 after a cargo van hit his police cruiser and an SUV on the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick.
“We certainly recognize the dedication he gave to his profession and we know that innately he was a really true, kind soul,” said MacFarlane. “We will work hard to make sure this bill goes forward with the support of all parties.”
Under the current move over law, vehicles must if possible change lanes when passing an emergency vehicle with flashing lights on the roadside. If motorists cannot change lanes, as on a two-lane road, they must slow down to 60 km/hr or the posted speed limit, whichever is slower.
But MacFarlane’s bill, if passed, would add tow trucks and recovery vehicles that are stopped on the road with flashing lights.
She was keen to see both an expanded move over law and greater awareness to make the roads safer for first responders.
“Every day they go to work, they put their lives on the line to protect our communities and our children,” said MacFarlane.
To help promote awareness, MacFarlane said that her bill would place signage on all 100-series highways and points of entry into Nova Scotia, such as land crossings from other provinces and ferry terminals.
She said that new drivers and tourists, often from places where traffic rules may be different, had to be properly educated about the move over law and what to do if they see stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights.
Indeed, MacFarlane’s own 16-year-old son, who is just starting his driver’s education, was unaware of the law until his mother told him about her upcoming bill.
When MacFarlane described the proposed legislation to her son, he replied, “that’s a no-brainer.”
MacFarlane was joined in legislature Tuesday by Deschênes’ widow, Savannah, and other RCMP members who watched as she tabled her bill.
MacFarlane said that she wanted the move over law to be renamed ‘Frankie’s Law.’
“Frankie dedicated his life to keeping people safe,” said Savannah Deschênes in a release Tuesday. “Renaming and improving this law will keep even more people safe and we are so proud of that. We miss him every day.”