'It seems to be getting worse': Police cracking down on bad drivers in construction zones
Published Monday, May 13, 2019 12:37PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, May 13, 2019 6:27PM PDT
As the summer construction season kicks into high gear across the province, police and WorkSafeBC are kicking off a campaign meant to keep roadside workers safe.
On Monday morning, a police officer dressed in a hard hat and high visibility vest was monitoring traffic along Gilmore Avenue near Lougheed Highway in Burnaby, where drivers were navigating their way through what’s known as a "Cone Zone," an area near a work site where barriers have been put up to protect workers.
But that undercover officer was actually looking inside cars to spot those breaking the law, including distracted drivers and speeders.
It didn’t take long for motorists to start getting pulled over by police waiting just up the street.
Despite this being the ninth year of the Cone Zone campaign, which encourages drivers to be mindful of areas with roadside workers, one of the most common offences remains distracted driving, according to Sgt. Patrick Davies with the RCMP Lower Mainland Integrated Road Safety Unit.
"I would say, unfortunately, it seems to be getting worse," Davies told CTV News. "There are more and more distractions."
"We also see people deliberately just refusing to obey the law, then claiming they didn’t know it was against the law," he added.
Karesse Desmond, who spent 13 years as a traffic flagger, and now trains new traffic controllers, says it’s no surprise that police were easily able to find people to ticket during the blitz Monday morning.
One of her former colleagues was killed on the job, and she know others who have been hurt.
"It only takes one car one second to take their eyes of the road and make a judgement call, and that judgement call could potentially lead to loss of life," Desmond said. "There are always risks involved whenever we step out onto the road. It’s an extremely dangerous under appreciated job."
She is asking people to be patient and cautious this summer, even when stuck in traffic, something Davies is also urging.
"All of these people have families, have loved ones, they want to go home at the end of the day and enjoy their lives," Davies said. "They don’t need to be injured or killed by someone who is being disrespectful of them, being inattentive, being careless."
WorkSafeBC says drivers, employers, and roadside workers all share the responsibility of keeping traffic workers safe.
And as for those who may try to talk their way out of tickets for an infraction in the Cone Zone, you likely won’t get much sympathy from the officers doing the enforcement.
"There won’t be any talking out of tickets," Davies added. "We are past the point of warnings anymore. Warnings don’t change behaviour,"
"We are asking people to slow down, obey the rules, and pay attention."
According to WorkSafeBC, two roadside workers in B.C. were killed after being hit by vehicles on the job in 2018, and another 29 were injured.
Davies said drivers can expect similar ticketing blitzes to happen all summer all across the province.