The NDP government is proposing changes to the Motor Vehicle Act to slow down transport trucks and better protect pedestrians and cyclists.
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming tabled Bill 23 Wednesday. It proposes several updates to the act, including requiring the use of speed-limiter equipment to regulate the maximum speed of heavy-duty commercial vehicles.
It would also impose a one-metre minimum safe-passing distance and a three-metre minimum following distance that drivers of motor vehicles must observe when sharing roadways with pedestrians, cyclists, e-bikes and other similar devices.
"Making our roads safer for everyone while enabling new and emerging transportation technology, especially personal mobility devices, is changing the way people and goods move safely around our cities and towns," Fleming said.
"This legislation requires drivers to use appropriate care around pedestrians and cyclists, supports enforcement of regulations, and sets a strong foundation for testing and evaluating new technology and policies as we shift to a net-zero future in B.C."
The trucking industry appears to be on board with the proposed changes.
"We've advocated for speed limiters on heavy-duty commercial vehicles because the data shows they dramatically reduce the number of at-fault speed-related accidents,” said Dave Earle, president and CEO of the BC Trucking Association.
“Additionally, speed limiters help green our sector by curbing fuel consumption and emissions generated by trucks travelling at high speeds. These amendments will benefit the trucking industry and British Columbians as a whole."
Bill 23 would also enable the province to regulate automated vehicles, including licensing, insurance, prohibition and permitting, to support research, testing and use of these vehicles on B.C. roads. The federal government has not authorized the sale of automated vehicles in Canada, but the legislation would align BC with Ontario, Quebec and other jurisdictions preparing for the next step in the evolution of transportation.
The amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act would clear the way for more emerging technologies, such as micro-utility delivery robots and personal mobility devices.
"A major part of shifting to a low-carbon economy is ensuring people have safe alternatives to get where they're going. By tabling these amendments we're advancing our CleanBC goals while putting the safety of people and communities first,” said Dan Coulter, Minister of State for Infrastructure and Transit.
These changes are part of the government's Clean Transportation Action Plan, which will be released later this year.