The B.C. Flaggers Association is applauding a recent commitment by the provincial government to double fines for drivers caught speeding in construction zones.
The announcement follows more than a year of getting the run around from various ministries about the issue.
“We are extremely happy that they are making a commitment to do something,” said Diane Herback, cofounder and director of the B.C. Flagging Association.
“But, in the back of our minds, we are wondering why it has taken so long to get a decision from the Ministry of Transportation and the Attorney General’s office. We are extremely grateful Shirley Bond is taking action and this is going to happen. For us, the doubling of fines in construction zones can’t happen soon enough.”
The B.C. Flagging Association has been asking the provincial government for more than one year to help improve safety for traffic control people, by putting a law in place that would double the fine for speeding in a construction zone.
However, last week the Minister of Justice and Attorney General resolved a lot of the confusion that was surrounding this safety issue.
“The former minister of transportation and I were working hard to make the necessary regulatory changes and I assure you that we intend to make changes at the earliest possible opportunity,” said Justice Minister Shirley Bond.
“Safety is always our primary consideration and I can tell you that the concerns expressed by traffic control people have been heard and we intend to take action.”
The confusion surrounding this issue comes from the fact that fines in construction zones are the responsibility of both the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for traffic laws and has authority to establish fines through the Offence Act Regulation.
However, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is responsible for rules of the road, which includes setting speed limits and posting signs in construction zones.
“It’s the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice and I have been working with my colleague Minister Shirley Bond to increase fines in construction zones,” said former B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Blair Leckstrom.
“If we already have the signs up and we believe they are going to stay up, then it only makes sense to do this. If we keep the signs up then we better live up to them.”
The B.C. Flaggers Association was told by Bond in July that the fine for speeding in construction zones would not be doubled.
Bond said at the time that the decision is up to the policing authority and she can’t interfere with or direct police in particular investigations.
This includes the enforcement of speeding infractions and penalties related to disobeying a flagger’s directions in construction zones as contained in the Motor Vehicle Act.
At the same time, Bond said the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure was responsible for changing the fine structure in construction zones.
After providing this explanation, Bond forwarded the flagger’s request to Superintendent Denis Boucher, who is the officer in charge of RCMP E-Division Traffic Services.
Next, they were advised by the RCMP and local law enforcement that they cannot change the laws, which are governed by the Motor Vehicle Act and guidelines set forth by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.
This is not the first time that the B.C. Flaggers Association has found it difficult to get a straight answer about their safety concerns from the provincial government.
In May, Herback sent an email to Leckstrom stating that they have found out that there is no such thing as double the fines in construction zones.
In the email, she said the police and the Ministry of Transportation have no idea where these signs have come from.
“I supported the flaggers efforts to double the fine for speeding in construction zones, as soon as they brought to my attention that this wasn’t the case,” said Leckstrom.
However, Herback’s email was sent after asking Lekstrom to double the fines in construction zones for about eight months.
In response, Leckstrom said the enforcement of construction speed zones falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Public Safety and Solicitor General.
Lekstrom forwarded Herback’s email to Shirley Bond, who was the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General at the time.
In an email sent by Leckstrom to Herback in August, he said the incorrect signs originated in the 1990s, when fines for speeding in a construction zone were doubled from $75 to $150.