Base rules of the road

right of way

Peter Mallett, 
Staff Writer

CFB Esquimalt is a busy place and it’s important to remain mindful of the rules of the road unique to the Base, especially around marching contingents, says Chief Petty Officer Second Class (CPO2) Jason Tucker, Deputy Base Chief Petty Officer.

“It’s vitally important people are aware service members, most of them newer members, are out on the road marching, and it’s important people take the time to observe the rules and show some patience,” said CPO2 Tucker.

Marching groups from Naval Fleet School Pacific (NFS(P)) often march near the main entrance of Naden along Ontario Drive, at Work Point as part of HMCS Venture’s Leadership Training programs, and at Albert Head, where Basic Military Qualification (BMQ), Primary Leadership Qualification (PLQ), and training for the Raven Program is conducted.

The road rules surrounding marching contingents at CFB Esquimalt, spelled out in Base Standing Orders 5250-2 on Marching Groups Policy, state contingents have the right-of-way over all vehicles at CFB Esquimalt. An exception applies to police, fire, ambulance, or other emergency vehicles in performance of their emergency duties.

The standing order warns motorists interrupting the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) while on the march, and/or hindering CAF on the march, is an offence under the National Defence Act Section 256.

CPO2 Tucker notes these rules also apply to cyclists.

“It is okay to pass marching groups on the left, if it done slowly and safely,” he said. “This means there is no oncoming traffic coming towards them, and they do not speed past the marchers in their effort to pass them.”

CPO2 John Penner, a Divisional Chief Petty Officer at NFS(P) says most motorists at the base drive safely around marching contingents.

“Some people, especially first thing in the morning, are impatient,” CPO2 Penner said. “This can lead to poor judgement and bad choices around marching groups, with drivers heading into the oncoming lane with traffic approaching or speeding past the group.”

The Base Standing Orders also have rules for marching groups:

Marching groups will march at the extreme right-hand side of the road and only in two ranks.

A look-out person, wearing a high visibility vest, will be posted approximately 15 paces in front and in the rear of the marching group, and may be required to stop traffic at intersections, when necessary.

The look-out person is required to warn vehicles of the proximity of personnel and to assist vehicle traffic in passing them.

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