Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: Be on the lookout for construction zone signs

The woman had passed a flashing message board and a number of black and orange signs

By Tim Schewe

I was driving home after shift last week listening to the radio and enjoying the sunshine. The traffic report was being broadcast and in it was a cell phone call from a woman who had been stopped in the lineup for the highway construction on Highway 4 between Port Alberni and Parksville. She wondered if anyone knew what was going on.

This call to the traffic report surprised me. The woman had passed a flashing message board and a number of black and orange signs, some with flapping red flags, advising her what was happening before she ever arrived at the lineup. How could she have missed seeing these signs?

In our connected world, DriveBC shows highway events on its website so you know before you go what you may encounter on your trip. The information is also available via an app for your smart device as well.

The Motor Vehicle Act requires that when work is being carried out on a highway signs be posted indicating that this is happening. In addition to that, signs must also be posted showing a construction speed limit or restricting the manner in which vehicles are to proceed through the area. These signs must then be removed as soon as the reason for them no longer exists.

If there is a flagger or traffic control person in the construction zone, a driver must drive in the manner directed by them.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure publishes a traffic control manual to guide the installation of traffic control devices and how flag persons should conduct traffic in the work zone.

Workers in construction zones were often very happy when I parked my marked police car in their contruction zone and dealt with drivers who did not obey the signs or directions given to them. Each year B.C. sees about one death, six serious injuries and 22 time loss claims made by these people due to collisions. This is not acceptable!

For safety’s sake, please slow down in Cone Zones. They are there to protect both workers and drivers. The cost to you is only a few seconds, and unless you are an emergency vehicle responding to a crisis, losing those few seconds to be safe is a small price to pay.

P.S.: Don’t forget the Slow Down, Move Over rule. It applies in construction zones too.

Remember that just because the workers have gone home for the day, the hazards could still be there. This is why construction zone signs are left in place when the work is expected to last for more than part of a day. Speed signs still apply even if workers are not present.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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