RCMP to focus on safety in highway work zones

It’s summer, and that means it’s construction season. The focus of July’s Traffic Safety Spotlight is work zones.

Encountering one of the orange zones may result in a bit of a delay while you’re en route to your next fun summer destination, but SGI is reminding drivers to be mindful of workers while travelling through those construction areas – be patient, slow down and stay alert. Always obey traffic signs and directions from any flag person you see. 

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“That’s someone’s workplace you’re driving through,” notedJoe Hargrave, Minister responsible for SGI. “The extra time you might gain by speeding through a work zone just isn’t worth the risk.”

“The best advice is to plan ahead, check in with the Highway Hotline, and allow yourself additional time to get to your destination, safely,” said Lori Carr, Minister of Highways and Infrastructure.

“Workers and machinery are both very close to traffic in work zones,” said Shantel Lipp, President of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association.“Work zones tend to be more congested due to lane reductions, so things can happen fast – which makes any number of speeders in work zones unacceptable.”

“These workers are our friends, neighbours, and family members – it’s important that we do our part to get them home safe,” said Collin Pullar, President of the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association. 

“Through awareness and education, we can prevent many incidents and close calls in our work zones and help create the safest construction environment in Canada.”

Drivers are required to slow to 60 km/h or the speed that’s posted when passing a highway worker, flag person or highway equipment with warning lights flashing.

Exceeding the 60 km/h speed limit by 20 km/h will cost you $440.

If you’re going 40 km/h over the limit, that’s going to cost you $1,008. Plus, you’ll lose at least three Safe Driver Recognition points on your licence, which can lead to further financial penalties. 

The fines are significant for a reason. Reducing your speed can help avoid a close call, or something much worse. Give yourself more time to react to a potential collision and reduce your speed. 

Police will be keeping an eye on work zones in July, and some work zones will be monitored by photo radar. In 2018, there were nearly 1,500 convictions for speeding in work zones. That’s nearly 1,500 times drivers ignored reduced speed limits and put workers’ lives at risk.

Drivers can follow these tips to keep our roads safe:

• Always give the road your full attention, but it’s especially important in work zones. Slow down and expect the unexpected.

• When planning your trip, expect delays – leave earlier, and be patient. 

• Keep a safe following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. 

• Obey posted signs and flag persons. You may not see workers right away, and even if they aren’t there work zones have other safety hazards to keep in mind. 

• When a lane is closed in a work zone, embrace the zipper merge. It makes traffic flow more quickly and efficiently.