She’s been threatened, yelled at and nearly run over on the job. Now she’s asking drivers in Greater Victoria to slow down and pay attention in work zones not just for their own safety, but for the safety of roadside workers.
Rachel Camire works traffic control for Universal Group in Langford and says one day on the job, nine people ran through her stop sign, including two who almost got hit by oncoming traffic.
But sometimes, things turn hostile.
“I’ve had someone get out of their vehicle and issue threats at me. Some yell at me, or slam their steering wheel or dashboard in anger and frustration,” recalled Camire.
While she understands drivers can get frustrated, she says she and her co-workers are just trying to do their jobs and manage traffic. “We really don’t want to keep them stopped for any longer than is necessary,” said Camire.
So she’s asking drivers to keep safety top of mind, especially after witnessing driving behaviours that put herself, her co-workers and drivers and their passengers at risk.
“A lot of people are distracted,” said Camire.
“They’re on their phones but also scrolling on their car’s digital screens, brushing their hair, concentrating on what they are eating, etc.”
‘Far too many’ lives lost
Speeding is also an issue, according to Road Safety at Work program director Trace Acres in a news release. He says drivers going too quickly “put those workers at risk of serious injury or death.”
WorkSafeBC says between 2013 and 2022, nine roadside workers were killed, and 239 were injured seriously enough to miss time for work — “far too many,” notes Acres.
“Drivers have a responsibility to proceed safely through any kind of work zone to ensure that those workers can get home safely at the end of the day,” he said.
Road Safety At Work, a WorkSafeBC-funded initiative, says a roadside work zone is where a worker may be exposed to moving vehicles, with orange cones used to alert drivers and automated flagger assistance devices (AFADs) becoming more common. It says drivers must stop at least one car length away when an AFAD arm is down and the light is yellow or red.
Not following the rules can be costly.
Road Safety At Work is stressing B.C. laws, which require drivers to slow down and drive with care, pay attention, leave the phone alone and obey road signs, traffic control devices and people.
The Slow Down Move Over law means drivers must slow down and move over for all vehicles stopped along a road with flashing red, blue or yellow lights. Failing to do so is a $173 fine and three points, according to information on the province’s website.
Other typical fines include:
- Using an electronic device while driving: $368
- Speeding: $196 and up
- Disobeying a traffic control device: $121
- Disobeying a traffic control person: $196
When approaching a work zone, “drive like a loved one or a close friend works there. Even if you’re briefly delayed, remember that those delays are necessary to help keep roadside workers safe,” adds Acres.
“Make sure you’re giving those workers room to work and not putting them in any kind of danger.”