Construction Zone Signs

Construction Ahead SignI was driving home after shift last week listening to the radio and enjoying the sunshine. The traffic report was being broadcast and in it was a cell phone call from a woman who had been stopped in the lineup for the highway construction on Highway 4 between Port Alberni and Parksville. She wondered if anyone knew what was going on.

This call to the traffic report surprised me. The woman had passed a flashing message board and a number of black and orange signs, some with flapping red flags, advising her what was happening before she ever arrived at the lineup. How could she have missed seeing these signs?

Examples of Typical Orange on Black Construction Zone Signs

Examples of Construction Zone Signs

In our connected world, DriveBC shows highway events on it's web site so you know before you go what you may encounter on your trip. The information is also available via an app for your smart device as well.

The Motor Vehicle Act requires that when work is being carried out on a highway signs be posted indicating that this is happening. In addition to that, signs must also be posted showing a construction speed limit or restricting the manner in which vehicles are to proceed through the area. These signs must then be removed as soon as the reason for them no longer exists.

If there is a flagger or traffic control person in the construction zone, a driver must drive in the manner directed by them.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure publishes a traffic control manual to guide the installation of traffic control devices and how flag persons should conduct traffic in the work zone.

Workers in construction zones were often very happy when I parked my marked police car in their construction zone and dealt with drivers who did not obey the signs or directions given to them. Each year B.C. sees about 1 death, 6 serious injuries and 22 time loss claims made by these people due to collisions. This is not acceptable!

For safety's sake, please slow down in Cone Zones. They are there to protect both workers and drivers. The cost to you is only a few seconds, and unless you are an emergency vehicle responding to a crisis, losing those few seconds to be safe is a small price to pay.

PS: Don't forget the Slow Down, Move Over rule. It applies in construction zones too.

Remember that just because the workers have gone home for the day, the hazards could still be there. This is why construction zone signs are left in place when the work is expected to last for more than part of a day. Speed signs still apply even if workers are not present.

The person posting this message is making a lot of assumptions.

  1. Were the signs far enough down the road she saw them before hitting the line?
  2. Was the stoppage posted for 20 minutes and she had been sitting there for an hour?
  3. Had there been two releases of traffic on the other side of the road and none in her direction of travel?
  4. Was this one of the posted stoppages?

1.Over the years I have come upon a line of traffic sitting for no apparent reason. There had been no signs posted, nothing indicating that traffic was stopped. Later when we began to move we finally hit the signs indicating a flag person was ahead. Don't do no good when the line is longer than anticipated. As for an app for your phone very handy for people in the SW corner of the province. The rest of us still put up with dead spots. In this case she did have cell coverage.

2. This is a common problem. Delays posted on the website for 20 minutes only to be stretched out considerably. Can be responsible for #1. This creates problems for flaggers and safety concerns. Do they move their signs down the road several klicks for the times they run overtime? This can result in people slowing for a couple of klicks then figuring someone forgot to remove the signs and returning to speed. Catch 22. Incompetence on work crews. If you have a 20 minute time frame keep within.

3. Have never figured this one out. Sitting in a line of traffic the other side goes through and you're still sitting there 15 minutes later only for another release from the other side? Anyone knows the answer would love to hear it.

4. Accidents and construction sites go hand in hand. You know there is a timed delay at X location. You're not even halfway there when traffic comes to a sudden stop. You have no indication what is going on. How long is the highway going to be closed? Should I turn around and find a detour or get a room before that option is gone? Lots of questions and no answers.

The way flagging is done in B.C. is a disaster. There should never be less than two, three would be best. One person can stand there holding their stop sign even though they can not see the end of the line and the other person can use a scooter or something to move along the line passing information to the motorist. If they have three people, the third can stay at the end of the line moving signs if needed and as people pull up advising them what is going on. The other person can travel back and forth along the line providing new information.

As for information on the radio that is historical information. It is never current.

It is always easy to blame the driver and boy do people like to complain about someone that wants to have some accurate information. Rather than always blaming the driver why not look at solutions?