• May 12, 2014 9:00 AM

Truckers working outside their vehicles at increased risk of being hit by passing drivers

24 workers per year struck on roadside

RICHMOND, BC, May 12, 2014 /CNW/ - Between 2004 and 2013, 40 truck drivers were seriously injured by a passing vehicle while changing tires, putting on tire chains, or doing other vehicle maintenance tasks.

In that same period, 239 roadside vehicle incidents involving workers were reported to WorkSafeBC – 15 of these workers died. Over the past decade an average of 24 workers per year were struck by motor vehicles while they worked on or beside the road. And it's not just truck drivers getting hurt; other workers at serious risk of injury from passing cars include emergency response personnel, municipal workers and landscapers.

As summer approaches and roadside work increases, there will be over 25,000 British Columbians working in "cone zones". These roadside work areas whether large or small, are only separated from passing traffic by orange cones and other delineators in order to keep both the workers and drivers safe from injury.

Workers report that speeding and driver distraction, primarily cell phone use, are the most common dangerous driving behaviours that they witness.

Here are some ways to make sure that both you and roadside workers stay safe:

  • Slow down
  • Pay attention – if you are using a hands-free device, end your call immediately
  • Respect roadside workers – make sure to give them space (move over to another lane, if it's safe to do so), and follow their signs and directions
  • Check for traffic delays before you leave
    •    DriveBC.ca – Provides real time information on current road and travel conditions
    •    Listen to your local radio station traffic report
    •    Visit your municipal website for work zone locations
  • Allow more time for your commute and take a different route if possible

Even with safety measures in place, serious injuries, near misses, and fatalities caused by distracted, aggressive or speeding drivers are a reality of the workplace for roadside workers in B.C. Watch their stories at ConeZoneBC.com.

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and RCMP will be setting up construction zone enforcement locations on May 12th in Vancouver and throughout the province. Results from a previous VPD enforcement initiative on December 12th resulted in 67 violation tickets written to drivers for cell phone distraction, disobeying a red light and traffic directions, and speeding while driving through a work zone.

VPD enforcement at more than one of the following locations on May 12:

  • Dunbar between 49th Ave - 51st Ave
  • Cambie and Smithe (Cambie corridor to downtown)
  • Pt. Grey between MacDonald and Trafalgar
  • E. 29th between Slocan and Nanaimo
  • Burrard Street Bridge work Zone

Quotes:

WorkSafeBC Industry and Labour Services Manager, Mark Ordeman -

"Drivers often associate cone zones with traffic control personnel or flaggers, but it's important to remember that there are many other types of workers at the side of the road. Between 2004 and 2013, a significant number of serious injury claims were filed by transport (truck) drivers injured by a passing vehicle while working outside of their own vehicle parked at the side of the road."

Audio link to quote.

Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, Shirley Bond -

"Workplace safety is of paramount importance. Increasingly we see evidence of distracted drivers, and we need to remember that for many people, the workplace includes being on the road. We need people to respect these cone zones. Regardless of where you work – in an office, at a warehouse, or behind the wheel – everyone wants to get home safely at the end of the day."

OIC Traffic Section, Vancouver Police Department, Inspector Les Yeo -

"Some motorists/drivers are still not getting the message about the dangers of using an electronic device while driving. It's foolish and puts all road users at risk, including traffic controllers who are trying to get you to your destination safely."

OIC Enhanced Traffic Services Programs, RCMP "E" Division Traffic Services, Inspector I.E. (Ted) Emanuels -

"RCMP Traffic Services officers across the province will be supporting the Cone Zone Campaign on May 12 and throughout the summer construction period.  Construction zones pose a real risk of danger for both workers and road users.  Slowing down, paying extra attention, observing the posted signs, following the directions of traffic control personnel, and patience, can save a life."

About the Work Zone Safety Alliance:

The Cone Zone campaign is a joint provincial initiative supported by organizations committed to improving the safety of roadside workers. They are the Justice Institute of British Columbia, Shaw Communications Inc., R.C.M.P., Vancouver Police Department, Ambulance Paramedics of BC, BC Construction Safety Alliance, BC Flagging Association, BC Hydro, BC Landscape and Nursery Association, BC Municipal Safety Association, B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, FortisBC, IBEW 258, ICBC, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Actsafe, Telus, The Community Against Preventable Injuries, Automotive Retailers Association, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, Lower Mainland police, City of Surrey, City of Prince George, and WorkSafeBC.

About WorkSafeBC:

WorkSafeBC is an independent provincial statutory agency governed by a board of directors that serves about 2.2 million workers and more than 215,000 employers. WorkSafeBC was born from the historic compromise between B.C.'s workers and employers in 1917 where workers gave up the right to sue their employers and fellow workers for injuries on the job in return for a no-fault insurance program fully paid for by employers. WorkSafeBC is committed to safe and healthy workplaces and to providing return-to-work rehabilitation and legislated compensation benefits.

SOURCE Road Safety At Work

For further information: Lennea Durant, Media Relations, Road Safety at Work, Tel: 604 875-1182, lennea.durant@roadsafetyatwork.ca; Megan Johnston, Media and Government Relations, WorkSafeBC, Tel: 604 214-6934, Megan.Johnston@worksafebc.com