14th Annual Cone Zone Campaign kicks off in the Kootenays

Photo: Ethan Morneau, staff

Slow down, pay attention, and move over. That’s the theme of this year’s annual Cone Zone Campaign, which aims to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities among roadside workers.

Tens of thousands of roadside workers and millions of drivers in the province share a common goal: they all want to get home safe each day.

That’s where the Cone Zone safety awareness campaign comes into play.

A media release from Road Safety at Work, the organization that manages the campaign in collaboration with the Work Safety Alliance, stated that the campaign reminds drivers to avoid speeding, aggressive and distracted driving, and to obey flag persons and traffic signs.

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“Every time you drive through a roadside work zone in the Kootenays, you’re not just passing cones and barriers. You’re in someone’s workplace,” says Trace Acres, Program Director for Road Safety at Work.

“Just like you, these workers deserve to be safe in their workplace. Slow down and pay attention. Work zones are temporary but our actions behind the wheel can last forever.”

Roadside workers, which include traffic control persons, road maintenance crews, utility workers, landscapers, first responders, tow operators, and garbage collectors, are often in vulnerable positions with traffic passing within metres of them.

Every shift they’re at risk of being struck by vehicles.

Acres said every year the province sees about one person killed and about 25 people seriously injured, enough to have to take time off work.

“It’s an ongoing problem. The point of the campaign is to raise awareness and to get people to understand that roadside workers are vulnerable and that if they use a few precautions like lowering their speeds and paying attention in roadside work zones then they can protect those workers as well.”

Drivers and their passengers are at risk too. Driving too fast and being distracted in work zones can lead to crashes.

“You’ve got to be fully engaged because there are a lot of things going on. Your driving decisions could be the difference between life and death.”

The safest decision is to avoid Cone Zones if possible, added Acres. Listen to traffic reports before and during your trip and adjust your route.

“Throughout the Kootenays in the summer, we see a number of road projects. Those can be construction projects or they can be other types of roadside projects like municipal works or utility works. All workers who are working at the roadside deserve our respect and there are laws in place to protect them.”

Acres reminds motorists who see flashing lights (amber, orange, or red and blue) traveling in an area with speed limits less than 80 km/h, must slow down to 40 km/h. On highways with speeds higher than 80 km/h, motorists must slow down to 70 km/h.

He added that on multi-lane highways, you must move over into the left lane to allow workers more room to do their job safely.

Motorists caught driving unsafe in work zones face penalties ranging $121 to $368.

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