The Traffic Safety Spotlight for SGI is shining on work zone safety for the month of July. And as more people hit the highways this Long Weekend, it's important to remember to slow down and pay attention in those construction zones.
"I think it's really important to have safety at the top of mind of drivers," shared Tom Lees with the Ministry of Highways. "When it comes to highways, we look at the safety of our roads with the 3 E's: engineering, enforcement and education."
"We really need the motoring public to understand what they need to do in the work zones because without the motorists following the guides and directions that are being put up there, our work zones are unsafe."
"The signs in the work zones are really put up there for a couple different reasons, one is to keep our employees safe as well as making sure that the motoring public is safe."
He added that even if there aren't workers presents, hazards could still exist for drivers.
"Even after the work has been completed for the day, there could be hazards that are on the road that motorists need to be aware of. many times the worker presents signs will be covered so you know that there aren't actual workers or equipment there but the speed reductions may still be in place because of a hazard that is still existing there."
Shantel Lipp, President of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association also shared that construction zones are extremely dangerous for workers.
"There isn't a day that goes by when one of our workers hasn't encountered some kind of a hazard whether that be someone driving too fast, passing when they're not supposed to be passing, some people will blow right past within a flagger within a work zone because they're in a hurry to get where they want to go."
She pointed out that these workers are fixing roads to allow you a better road to drive on whether it be to and from work or to the lake in the summer. And they deserve to work in a safe environment.
"Everyone who works in construction zones actually does get proper training. So the flag person has to go through flagger training. They're taught where to stand, what to look for, how to be alert, how to stay alert because there are hazards all the time."
She added that workers are being taught that when a vehicle approaches at high speeds, to jump into the ditch.
Ashley Richards was working as a flagperson during the summer of 2012 near Midale when she was struck by a vehicle and killed. Lipp adds that every year, there are accidents and more fatalities.
There are also financial penalties you can face if you are caught speeding in a work zone.
"In a construction zone marked by signs," explained Cst J-L LeBlanc with the RCMP, "the fines are the same as a speeding fine. However, if there are workers present or workers are in equipment, the fines triple."
Every day we get calls about vehicles that are going way too fast in construction zones. I'm personally out there and I'm watching for speeders and distracted drivers. If you're not paying attention, I will find you."
"I've seen people on their phones, I've seen girls putting makeup on, I've seen semi drivers using their knees and eating food while they're driving through a construction zone."
"Definitely slow down, pay attention, be vigilant. There are signs that are posted for construction zones, slow down, and be safe, and watch where the construction workers are."