Alongside Highway 39 between Midale and Halbrite is a roadside memorial, marking a tragedy that should never have happened.
On Aug. 24, an 18-year-old woman from New Brunswick, Ashley Richards, was working as a flagperson with a highway paving contractor when she was struck by an SUV, and was killed.
Her tragic death could have been prevented by the motorist observing the law, which is that vehicles are only to go 60 kilometres an hour in the "orange zone", which denotes the construction zone on a highway.
Highway construction workers are busy with their jobs, all in close proximity to the travelling surface of the highway where vehicles are normally travelling at a high rate of speed. Thus the reason for the speed zone, to reduce the hazard and the potentiality of hitting one of the workers, who are there after all to do a job and make the highway better for the travelling public.
The same speed limit applies when there is an emergency vehicle on the side of a highway, such as a tow truck, ambulance or police; these people are all performing vital, important duties, and they need to be protected from the dangers of speeding traffic.
This should be common sense for motorists, particularly if any of them have ever tried to get out of their vehicle or change a tire on the shoulder of a highway, and yet the contractor indicated that later the same day of this tragedy there were vehicles speeding through the construction zone, as if nothing had happened.
Clearly something more needs to be done to reinforce the safety of our highway workers; if posting a speed limit is not enough and people still insist on maintaining their highway speed through the zone, then the penalties need to be much tougher than they are now.
Premier Brad Wall tweeted his thoughts on this matter, and indeed there needs to be real teeth in such a law — and moreover, it needs to be enforced. Unfortunately our police services are already doing as much as they are able with the personnel they have; if resources are dedicated to this enforcement, then other areas of enforcement will go lacking.
Motorists of Saskatchewan, the death of a young woman who was pregnant and in the prime of her life is a deep tragedy that should not ever be repeated on our highways. We ought to have more respect for laws and for life, and keep our highways safe.