Safety efforts in road construction sites across Saskatchewan are being stepped up following the death of a pregnant 18-year-old who was working as a flagperson in a road construction site last month.
In a statement released earlier this week, Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure Minister Don McMorris said the provincial government and the RCMP will be joining forces to conduct traffic enforcement blitzes in the busiest ‘Orange Zones’ across the province.
“Our government will not tolerate speeding through the Orange Zone,” McMorris said. “Our first priority is to keep our highways workers safe. In the coming weeks, we will be announcing further measures to protect workers and ensure drivers are driving safely in the Orange Zone.”
By law, motorists must slow to speeds of 60 km/h where Orange Zone signs are erected and where construction workers are present. Fines for those who do not comply start at $140, and rise by $2 for every km/h the vehicle travels over the speed limit up to 90 km/h. After speeds exceed 90 km/h, the fine goes up by $4 for each extra km/h the vehicle clocks.
RCMP officer in charge of traffic services Andy Landers says the importance of sensible behaviour on the part of drivers cannot be understated.
“While travelling through construction zones, it is imperative that every motorist be focused on driving their vehicle in the safest manner possible,” he said. “Be aware of your surroundings before, during, and after travelling through construction zones. We need the motoring public to understand that they play a key role in keeping construction workers safe.”
The new blitz follows the death of pregnant 18-year-old Ashleigh Dawn Richards, a highway flagperson on Highway 39 in August. Richards was hit from behind by an SUV that drove through the construction site while she was waving cars through.
Dangers faced by workers on road construction sites are a significant issue in many countries around the world. In the United States, the Bureau of Labour Statistics indicated that around 100 construction workers are killed on road sites every year, accounting for eight per cent of total construction deaths in that country.
While excessive speed is considered the leading cause of accidents, other contributing factors include inadequate sign posting, drivers failing to notice road workers, drivers ignoring work zone signs or flaggers, drivers being distracted by cell phone calls/conversations/roadside activities and drivers failing to merge into lanes which are not closed in sufficient time and having to force themselves in, often being tempted to enter the work zone if they cannot get across.