WINNIPEG – Drivers caught speeding in construction zones in Manitoba will soon be stuck with a fine double the cost of a regular ticket, under tougher penalties to take effect Friday.
New road signs will also be posted requiring drivers to slow down regardless if there are workers on the site or not.
These signs will replace the previous signs that require drivers to slow down only when they’re passing workers.
“We’re also getting rid of the signs that say ‘when passing workers’, those signs used to be in place and we were asking drivers to take their eyes off the road and to look around to see if they could spot someone,” said Kevin Rebeck, president of Manitoba Federation of Labour.
“We’re starting with clearer signage and moving to more significant consequences,” Infrastructure and Transportation minister Steve Ashton said Thursday.
These new rules are also known as Brittany’s Law, in remembrance of construction worker Brittany Murray who was killed by a driver in 2010 while working as a flagger on a highway in Winnipeg.
Mitchell Blostein, 70, was charged with dangerous driving causing death but found not guilty in court. The ruling was upheld on appeal.
Rebeck has been in contact with Murray’s parents and says they believe these new rules are a step in the right direction.
“They’re very glad today that this law is now in place and other workers and families are safer,” said Rebeck.
And construction workers are thrilled with the new changes. “Some cars don’t stop, they go through red lights, so they should be more cautious,” said construction worker Daniel Santos.
Murray’s death may have been a rare incident but Rebeck says many more accidents take place. “There haven’t been as many deaths, but there have been a number of injuries, some quite serious and there’s been many, many near misses,” said Rebeck who gave examples of workers dodging out of the way of oncoming vehicles.
These new signs will show up on roads where work will take longer than four hours and the road speed is 80 kilometers an hour or more, but they could be on other roads if there’s a risk to workers.