Editorial: Give them all a brake

Help make highway workers' jobs safer

Imagine the last words ever heard from your spouse being “I’m off to work; I’ll see you at dinner.”

But instead of seeing your spouse at dinner, an unexpected knock at the door reveals a member of the police, informing you of a tragic accident.

For some – i.e. police and firefighter spouses – it’s a scenario they hope will never happen, but accept that it could; it comes with the territory.

But it should never happen as a result of careless motorists, and that’s the message the RCMP are trying to get across to motorists this month.

When coming upon flashing lights of any colour on the road, slow down and move over. It’s the law.

According to the BC Motor Vehicle Act, the 70/40 rule applies: where the speed limit is 80 km/h or higher, drivers must slow to 70 km/h near emergency vehicles; where the limit is below 80 km/h, drivers must reduce their speed to 40 km/h.

This does not apply only to first responders at accident scenes. It also applies to highway workers.

According to police, in a 10-year period, 235 roadside workers have been injured and 15 have been killed, due to inattentive motorists.

Those are 15 deaths that were categorically preventable.

We have the luxury of a wide, divided highway between Nanaimo and Campbell River. When coming across any type of flashing lights on Highway 19 – red, blue or orange – the proper procedure is to pull over to the farthest lane away from the lights.

In the case of single-lane highways, such as 19A, there are two choices – either give a wide berth to the workers, or stop completely, until it is safe to get around them in a manner that will not impede their work, or risk their lives.

The argument that stopping on a highway is not safe does not apply, as there will always be signs well in advance of the workers, advising motorists to slow down. By the time you approach the scene, by law, you should not be travelling at highway speeds. After that, as long as your brake lights are working, you are of no danger to the vehicles behind you.

Yes, it takes more time, and yes, we are all in a rush; we all want to get home.

So do the ones working on the highway.

Let’s all make sure they arrive home safely.

–Terry Farrell

 

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