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Flagger collision prompts highway protest in Vancouver

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by Richard Gilbert

A group of traffic control persons held a demonstration last week on the shoulder of Highway One, near the Port Mann Bridge, to highlight safety around construction zones.
A Vancouver area construction traffic control person.
A Vancouver area construction traffic control person.

Site safety

Traffic controller is 15th hit in three years in B.C.

VANCOUVER

A group of traffic control persons held a demonstration last week on the shoulder of Highway One, near the Port Mann Bridge, to highlight safety around construction zones.

“The purpose of the protest is to raise awareness with the traveling public about slowing down through construction zones,” said Kathie Larson, sales and marketing manager with BC Road Safe.

“The reason all this started was because Jen was hit last week and there have been other accidents and fatalities.”

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Jen Beauregard is a 23-year old traffic control person (TCP), who was hit by a by a speeding Honda SUV, while working on the South Fraser Perimeter Road project on Highway 10 in Delta, B.C.

The Mainland Civil Works Inc. employee sustained two broken legs, her pelvis needs to be reconstructed and she needs reconstructive facial surgery.

Larson said 60 people, representing about seven different traffic control contractors, including Fast Lane, One Stop, Eagle Eye, Matcon, the City of Vancouver and B.C. Road Safe took part.

Some of the protesters were holding large photographs of their seriously injured co-worker, while others had large orange signs reading, “BC flaggers are being killed — slow down.”

Another sign said “drive as if your kid worked here.”

The protest was not sanctioned by any association and some in the industry don’t support their approach.

“In general, the ministry certainly understands the concerns of the flaggers and support those concerns. Drivers have to be more careful in construction zones,” said Dave Crebo, communications director with the British Coumbia Ministry of Transportation.

Some 15 British Columbia flaggers have been hit in three years. Most of the incidents resulted in significant, but non life-threatening injuries.

However, there were two fatalities.

In March 2006, Theresa Newman, a mother of four, was working as a flagger outside Kelowna, when a drunk driver sped past another car, knocked down several traffic control pylons, slammed into a parked car and hit Newman, who died instantly.

In a 2008 incident, Terry Mitchell, an experienced flagger with Valley Traffic Systems Inc. was struck and killed by a pickup truck, driven by a visually impaired man, who didn’t have a valid licence.

In Ontario about 50 road construction workers have been killed and some 3,500 injured over the last five years, prompting the province to amend the Highway Traffic Act last spring to double fines for speeding in a construction zone.

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