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'We get flaggers hit all the time:' Cone Zone campaign kicks off, reminding drivers to obey traffic control flaggers

Sean Simard has been flagging roadside work zones for the past nine years.

“You’ve got to have your head on a swivel all the time,” said Simard.

It’s a job that demands constant focus because a lot of people are relying on him.

“At the end of the day, we all just want to get home to our families,” said Simard. “I’m a single dad, if I don’t get home… I’m all she has got.”

He’s never been injured on the job, but a few of his coworkers have, often by distracted drivers.

“Just in the last two minutes, I’ve seen two people drive by with their phones in their hand,” said Simard as he was flagging at a Victoria job site.

The fine for disobeying a flag person is $198. The fine for distracted driving is $368.

The Work Zone Safety Alliance runs the Cone Zone campaign. The goal of the campaign is to remind drivers to pay attention to the road and obey work zone flaggers, who are there for everyone’s protection.

“They have a job to be controlling the traffic and all the other hazards for the workers that might be looking down into a man hole, who are not paying attention,” said Mike Bernier, occupational health and safety advisor with Universal Group.

Statistics show roadside work is a dangerous profession. Twelve people have been killed on the job between 2012 and 2021, and more than 200 have been hurt.

“We get flaggers hit all the time,” said Mike Kemp, who is a traffic control instructor. “If they don’t get out of the way quick enough, sometimes their paddle gets hit.”

Kemp says to become a traffic controller, you must complete an intense two-day course beginning in the classroom.

“Then you write an exam that you must pass by 80 per cent,” said the instructor.

Day two is on-road experience. “You have to pass that by 100 per cent,” said Kemp. “If the instructor feels that you are unsafe on the road, you do not pass.”

This year the Province will be investing approximately $30 million to upgrade Vancouver Island highways, putting hundreds of workers out on the roads and flaggers like Simard, who just want to make it home safe at the end of the day. Top Stories

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