More signage for move-over law needed, widow of RCMP officer says

The widow of an RCMP constable who was struck and killed on the side of a New Brunswick highway is speaking out about the potential changes to the slow down, move over law

Savannah Deschenes is the widow of Const. Francis Deschenes who was killed while helping two motorists on the side of Highway 2 near Memramcook in 2017.

She said the changes are a step in the right direction, but there should be more education to remind people about the move-over law.

"You can implement a law but if you don't educate and make the public aware of the new law and put it in their face every day, they're not going to know about it," said Deschenes.

On Tuesday, the provincial government proposed expanding the move-over law to protect the crews of tow trucks, highway maintenance vehicles and utility vehicles that have their flashing lights engaged.

"It's almost one of the scariest places to work right now in New Brunswick is on the side of the road when you're trying to help people," Carl Urquhart, the minister of public safety, told reporters Tuesday.

The proposed change would also set a maximum speed limit — to half the posted speed limit — for vehicles passing crews of utility vehicles, tow trucks and emergency vehicles that have stopped on the side of the road.

The move-over law was already in place for emergency vehicles when Deschenes's husband was killed after being struck by a van.

Savannah Deschenes/Facebook

The move over law was implemented in 2013 to protect emergency vehicle personnel when they're pulled over, but Deschenes said not everyone knows about it.

Because of this, she said, she'd like to see signs around the province to educate motorists.

"Those visual reminders would be good to see more, like the cellphone use. They threw that in our face — 'no cellphones, no cellphones, no cellphones.'

"Why can't we do that with 'move over, move over, move over?'"

Deschenes, who lives in the Moncton area, said that when she sees people move over, she gets emotional. 

"It sounds kind of silly to some, but knowing that what I've been doing myself and spreading the word and from the unfortunate accident that occurred, people are more aware," she said. 

But when people don't move over, she gets frustrated.

"When I don't see people move over, I kind of have a moment of in-cabin road rage, where I scream, 'Move over.'"

RCMP

Deschenes wants to remind people that knowing the rules of the road is the responsibility of drivers, and the people working on the shoulder shouldn't have to worry about being hit.

"He would always look back," she said of he husband. 

"That was his habit that he gained on the job, was constantly looking back at ongoing traffic and trying to get out of the way when vehicles would be coming and he saw that they weren't going to move over, which is sad."