Burnaby drivers reminded to respect the 'cone zone'

Police and roadside safety advocates were in Burnaby Wednesday morning to remind local drivers to slow down and pay attention when driving past roadside workers.

The annual Cone Zone campaign, now in its 10th year, is designed to raise awareness as road construction ramps up in the summer.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the launch of this year’s initiative, but the message remains the same.

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Flagger Marie Meyer gives a motorist a thumbs-up on Lougheed Highway Wednesday morning. - Cornelia Naylor

“Basically we’re showing that this is a workplace just like your office where you work,” said Sgt. Patrick Davies of the Integrated Road Safety Unit. “If you drive through it, we want people to raise their eyes, put away the distractions, to pay attention to the roadside workers and not to kill or injure them.”

Davies and other members of the Integrated Road Safety Unit joined officials from WorkSafeBC and members of the Work Zone Safety Alliance at a “cone zone” on Lougheed Highway near Beta Avenue between 9 and 11 a.m. Wednesday morning for a traffic enforcement blitz.

“So far this morning, we’re seeing people on cellphones and an awful lot of people without seatbelts on, which is strange. You’d think that was something that was well and truly solved over the years,” Davies said.

Roadside work – performed not just by road construction crews but by tow-truck drivers, first responders, municipal workers, flaggers and building construction crews as well – is a dangerous job.

Last year, one roadside worker died after being hit by a vehicle and 19 were injured. Between 2010 and 2019, 13 roadside workers were killed and 204 were injured.

“There’s really no need for it at all,” Davies said.

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A man in Burnaby warns motorists of "cops" ahead during the launch of the annual Cone Zone campaign, which is designed to raise awareness about roadside worker safety. - Cornelia Naylor

During the enforcement blitz, officers were on the lookout for violations like speeding, disobeying a flagger and distracted driving.

There might have been more of that if not for a man up the road holding a handmade cardboard sign warning motorists of “cops” ahead.

“I’m just warning people,” said the man, who declined to provide his name, “I’ve done more than the cops, haven’t I? Everybody’s wearing their seatbelt, nobody’s on their phone and everybody’s going the speed limit. I wish everybody would do this because it’s just a cash grab.”

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