men working signWhen the road maintenance contractors undertake work on our highways they are hard to miss. The Traffic Control Manual for Work on Roadways tells them all about setting out advance warnings to give drivers plenty of opportunity to realize that they are approaching a hazard. What is often missing is the equivalent for short term, small scale occurrences. This had added importance now that we have the slow down, move over law.

The Motor Vehicle Act is very straight forward, if you are doing work on a highway, you must post traffic control devices indicating that there are workers or equipment present. This means that a sign, signal, line, meter, marking, space, barrier or device must be in place, ideally with sufficient distance to give drivers time to anticipate and react. A flashing yellow light alone is not sufficient.

The Act also requires that traffic control devices be placed to restrict the speed of traffic in a work area. If speed signs are not posted, then other devices must be placed to restrict the manner in which the vehicles are to proceed on the highway.

It’s worthwhile as part of this discussion to examine what is meant by the word highway. Most of us tend to think of main highways and freeways, but a highway also includes streets, lanes and pathways that the public uses to drive vehicles on, and that includes the shoulder. Working on the shoulder rather than in the travelled lanes does not excuse the need to place sufficient warnings.

Reference Links:

  • Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years, he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and ten as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web site.
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