NEWS - Cone Zone Campaign

The Cone Zone The roadside is a workplace for tens of thousands of BC workers every day. And every day their work puts them at risk of injury or death -- especially in spring and summer, when there are more roadside work zones. Drivers and their passengers passing through work zones face similar dangers.

The province wide Cone Zone campaign reminds drivers, workers, and employers that unsafe driving in roadside work zones puts people in danger. Work zones can include everything from long-term construction projects to a tow truck operator assisting a stranded driver to a moving van unloading while parked on a street.

The campaign launched this morning. It emphasizes the need for drivers to slow down and pay attention in work zones. According to WorkSafeBC statistics, 12 roadside workers were hit by a vehicle and killed in BC from 2012 to 2021. Another 221 were injured seriously enough to have to take time off work.

“Think about the workplace you go to every day. Now imagine cars and trucks whizzing by within just a few metres of you,” says Trace Acres, Program Director for Road Safety at Work and spokesperson for the 13th annual campaign. “That’s how vulnerable roadside workers are. Sometimes, orange cones are the only things separating their work site from moving vehicles weighing several tonnes.”

Driving decisions affect the lives of others

Roadside workers aren’t just road construction and maintenance crews. They’re also landscapers, municipal workers, tow truck operators, utility workers, emergency and enforcement personnel, and others.

“Your driving decisions affect lives,” says Acres. “Every worker is someone’s parent, child, friend, neighbour, or co-worker. How you drive in work zones anywhere in the province can be the difference between them getting home safely after their shift or being injured or killed.”

Drivers and their passengers are at risk too. Going too fast, or driving distracted or aggressively, can cause rear-end collisions and other crashes. Drivers not paying attention or distracted by their phones could hit or be hit by vehicles and equipment working in the zone.

Drivers have legal responsibilities in work zones

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

If that’s not possible, “you have a legal responsibility to drive safely in a roadside work zone,” Acres notes. “Slow down, pay attention, and avoid distractions. Follow instructions from road signs, traffic control persons, or traffic control devices.”

This year drivers may see something new as they approach work sites. Automated flagger assistance devices (AFADs) are becoming more common. These safety devices use a gate and traffic light to guide drivers. Vehicles need to stop when the gate is down and a red light is shining. Once the light changes to yellow and the gate rises, drivers can proceed.

If there are vehicles with red, blue or amber flashing lights, BC’s Slow Down and Move Over law (SDMO) applies. It requires drivers to switch to another lane if possible and it’s safe to do so. If there is no posted construction zone speed limit, then SDMO laws apply.

Penalties for unsafe driving in a work zone include:

  • Using an electronic device while driving ($368)
  • Speeding ($196 to $253)
  • Disobeying a traffic control device ($121)
  • Disobeying a flag person ($196)

Drivers, workers, employers all have a role in roadside safety

The Cone Zone campaign is a provincial initiative supported by the Work Zone Safety Alliance and managed by Road Safety at Work. Roadside worker safety is a collaboration between drivers, employers, and workers. Employers are required by law to ensure safe and healthy workplaces for their roadside workers by providing job specific training, education, and supervision.

Roadside workers need to know how to identify hazards and assess risks. They need to follow safe work procedures and wear appropriate high-visibility clothing and other personal protective equipment. They’re required to report unsafe work conditions to their supervisor and have an obligation to refuse unsafe work.

For more tips on driving safely in a work zone visit The Cone Zone.

Major provincial roadside projects for spring/summer 2023

Check the list of major provincial transportation and infrastructure projects involving roadside work zones for ones in your region.