Inattentive and speeding motorists are putting highway maintenance crews at risk.
During six months, JPW Road and Bridge, which is responsible for highways in the North Okanagan-Shuswap, has recorded five accidents in work zones. One traffic controller was injured and four of the incidents involved distracted driving.
“I’ve had 16 near-miss reports from our crews about the speed of vehicles in work zones. It’s quite scary,” said Teagan Burton, quality assurance manager.
In many cases, JPW’s crews are removing tire debris, garbage or dead animals from roadways, which are hazards for motorists.
“We want motorists to slow down and move over,” sad Burton.
B.C. enacted slow down, move over legislation in 2009 after Vernon Towing employee Ernie Semkiw was struck and killed by a van while assisting a vehicle in 2006.
Under the rules, motorists are required to slow down and move over for all vehicles stopped alongside the road that have flashing red, blue or yellow lights. This includes maintenance workers, utility workers, police, fire, ambulance, tow trucks, Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement personnel, land surveyors, animal control workers, garbage collectors and other roadside workers.
Motorists must slow their speed to 70 kilometres an hour when in an 80km/h or over zone, and to 40 kilometres when in an under 80km/h zone.
If travelling on a multi-lane road, drivers must move into another lane to pass when passing stopped vehicles with a flashing light.
Motorists ignoring the legislation can receive a $173 ticket that also carries three penalty points.
And with winter almost here, JPW is also urging motorists to be careful when they see a snow plow on the road.
Specifically, stay 15 metres back from the plow and do not pass a plow on the right because that is where the snow is being directed.
“When the lights are flashing, the trucks are working,” said Burton.