Construction zone driving infractions on the rise says SGI

Jason Kerr
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With summer just around the corner road construction crews will soon be heading to work around the province, and that’s a big concern for local police and government agencies.

Construction workers repair a section of road in Prince Albert last summer. 

According to Saskatchewan Government Insurance figures, the number of collisions in construction zones has risen every year since 2010, which has a lot of people concerned.

“Far too many people are taking unnecessary risks,” SGI spokesperson Kelley Brinkworth says.

In 2012 there were 178 collisions in Saskatchewan construction zones, resulting in 56 injuries and one death.  In 2011 there were 150 collisions (84 injuries, zero deaths), while 2010 saw 138 collisions province wide (49 injuries, three deaths).

The 2013 figures are still being compiled, but Brinkworth says she doesn’t think the message is getting through.

“Based on more than 1,300 convictions, I’d say no,” she says.

She bases that on the number of work zone speeding convictions, which provincially totaled 1,347 last year.  In 2012 it was 197.

SGI hopes that people will get the message as convictions become more frequent and drivers take notice of the expensive fines.  For example, a ticket for disobeying a flag person, driving without reasonable consideration and speeding in a construction zone can net you more that $600 in combined fines.

However, things are a bit different in Prince Albert, where tickets are more often issued for reckless driving than speeding.

“We’re dedicated to traffic safety and the safety of our construction workers, but as far as enforcement goes, we would look at a driving with undo care and attention (ticket),” Sgt. Brandon Mundy says.

Mundy says reckless driving tickets are difficult to enforce by officers, so they rely largely on witness complaints.

The trend extends provincially, where 993 of last years speeding convictions where handed out via photo radar.

Work zone speed limits and rules vary by municipality, while on highways drivers must slow to 60 km/h when in construction zones.

To help combat the problem, SGI is amending the Safe Driver Recognition program.  Now, drivers are penalized for travelling more than 35 km/h over the speed limit, instead of 50.

However, even with the penalties and tickets, Brinkworth says SGI just hopes drivers will put themselves in the construction workers shoes.

“Maybe you’re in a hurry to get home and there’s a work zone there, and thinking ‘I just want to get home to my family,’” she says.  “Well, think about the construction workers that are on site there.  They’re probably thinking the exact same thing.”

Organizations: Saskatchewan Government Insurance

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Prince Albert

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