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British Columbia construction-zone flaggers form association

Richard Gilbert

Traffic-control workers in B.C. have formed an association and are hoping meetings with local police can increase construction-zone safety.


Traffic-control workers in B.C. have formed an association and are hoping meetings with local police can increase construction-zone safety.

“We have created a non-profit called the B.C. Flagging Association for traffic control,” said Tammy Sampson, a cofounder of the group.

“This is the result of multiple accidents and deaths in B.C. construction zones.”

Unsafe drivers were responsible for two fatalities and injuries to 17 flaggers in 2009.

The association met with the RCMP on Sept. 2 and asked for a safety blitz.

The police have agreed to step up enforcement, Sampson said.

“The police can give drivers double the regular fine if they don’t obey the sign and speed in a construction zone,” said Sampson. “However, I don’t think this law has ever been used.”

She added police have to see a driver speeding in a construction zone to issue a ticket, but often the police aren’t watching construction zones.

Another important part of the effort to get drivers to slow down in construction zones is a recent campaign launched by WorkSafeBC.

The 60-second public service video features traffic controller Jennifer Beauregard, who was struck by an SUV in September 2009.

“I think there are far too many people getting injured or killed and it is not necessary,” said Beauregard.

“I don’t know why people are not more aware of their surroundings.

“It just seems like common sense, but these accidents keep happening. I want the campaign to make people more cautious. I just want people to be aware.”

The driver of the SUV, who was sending a text message, hit Beauregard with so much force that she was propelled five metres in the air and more than 30 metres down the road.

“Flag persons are extremely vulnerable,” said Al Johnson, regional director of construction for WorkSafeBC.

“All they have to protect them are their reflective clothing and a sign to manage traffic flow — and all too often they are the victims of driver inattention or impatience.

Drivers need to slow down and pay close attention to flag persons and speed limits in construction zones so that there are no more fatalities and serious injuries such as what happened to Jennifer Beauregard.”

The video is the latest edition of WorkSafeBC’s ongoing Slow Down campaign, which has been running since 2007.

It can be found on WorkSafeBC’s website and its Facebook page, as well as YouTube.

“While summer is winding down, construction activity is not,” Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Shirley Bond said in a statement.

“This is the busiest construction season ever in B.C., so motorists will come across construction sites and flag people more frequently. I urge motorists to exercise caution behind the wheel when in construction zones, and to please slow down and pay attention to ensure these men and women can do their jobs safely.”

She has asked Commercial Vehicle Inspection staff to immediately step up enforcement in construction zones and put more speed reader boards on jobsites.

“We will also be working with the RCMP to find additional measures to improve safety in construction zones and on roads in B.C. in general,” she said.

The latest B.C. flagger to be injured was hit in Coquitlam on Aug 29.

The flagger was thrown a short distance. She was taken to hospital and later released. She is recovering at home with bruising.

The driver has been charged.

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