The safe roads campaign wrapped up on Monday to start off the warm weather season when people will be taking to the roadways more than ever, especially after the pandemic.
Manitoba Heavy Construction Association president and chair of the Safe Roads Committee Chris Lorenc outlines the importance of honing in on our road skills.
"For 18 years, there's been a collection of public and private sector organizations that have championed to the public with messages around the importance of safe, prudent driving through construction zones or public rights of way which are occupied by workers," says Lorenc. "It's to ensure that whether it's police, fire, ambulance, utility, hydro, or construction worker, these folks can get back home at the end of their shift."
He says there have been an unnecessary number of accidents over the years.
"Far too much speeding going through these zones, and that puts at risk both the driver and the workers who are each and everyone entitled to a safe workplace," says Lorenc. "We have radio ads and billboards. We also use social media, and the message is 'slow down' because speeding has consequences, and the consequences can involve the doubling or tripling of fines and appearances in court. But if it's property damage, the cost of deductible, and, of course, in the worst-case scenarios, either a person is injured or a tragedy befalls a family and someone dies. And that's happened. I don't think anybody wants to be in a position where they're responsible for that level of tragedy simply because they chose to avoid or ignore flaggers or posted signs that ask people to slow down."
Lorenc explains the very vast majority of Manitobans do obey the signs and do follow the directions of flaggers, and they're very appreciative of that.
"But there is a very small minority who speed through construction zones," adds Lorenc. "They hurl objects at flaggers. They curse at flaggers. We've had situations where a flagger has been hit by a motor vehicle, and the driver continued driving with that person on the hood of the car. We've had cars whose mirrors have clipped the side of an individual causing injury. We've had deaths at these construction zones, so the risks are real. The potential for harm is real. The risk of liability is real, and we just want people to recognize that this is somebody's workplace."
He compares what it would be like for any given person to be in the kind of danger as are these workers on a daily basis.
"Imagine being in the office, and a vehicle speeding by you at 50 or 60 kilometres," says Lorenc. "That's unnerving, unnerving and we want to provide a safe workplace. So, we're asking people to please be mindful of construction and related zones in which people are working. Stay safe, drive safely, and let them go home safely."
Lorenc says it's getting better for those working in those zones.
"There are fewer speeding accidents, but we still have knuckleheads that think they can ignore these rules," notes Lorenc.