The May long weekend in B.C. comes with its own set of traditions from trips away to parades and concerts in home communities.
The start of warmer weather for much of the province means a big bump in both road travel and construction and several agencies see it as a signal to remind drivers to slow down, pay attention and drive safely. According to ICBC statistics, on average, two people are killed and 480 people are injured in 1,800 crashes over the Victoria Day weekend in B.C. On Vancouver Island, an average 61 people are injured in 260 crashes, based on a five-year average from 2017 to 2021.
While the south coast sees construction much of the year, the annual Cone Zone campaign launches in mid-May as warmer weather causes an uptick of roadside workers.
Driving decisions affect lives, said campaign spokesperson Trace Acres.
“Over the past 10 years, 12 workers have died at the roadside mainly as a result of vehicles being driven carelessly through a construction zone or a roadside work zone,” Acres said, citing WorkSafe statistics. Another 221 were injured seriously enough to have to take time off work.
Not everyone’s getting it, Acres said, offering a first-hand observation.
While driving through a school zone not two days after the May 15 launch, he noted drivers around him dutifully taking care to adhere to the 30 km/h speed limit.
“Not 50 metres after the school zone was a worksite … it was municipal workers and there were vehicles with flashing yellow lights, but as soon as drivers got out of the school zone they sped up,” Acres said. “It was an interesting example of how people are paying attention in one instance and not another.”
While the campaign name conjures up the image of bright cones and hi-vis gear, roadside workers go beyond construction and maintenance crews, Acres noted. Many fields are represented in the Work Zone Safety Alliance, a backbone of Road Safety At Work that facilitates the program – others include landscapers, municipal workers, tow truck operators, utility workers, emergency responders and enforcement personnel.
“Every worker is someone’s parent, child, friend, neighbour, or co-worker. How you drive in work zones around Greater Victoria can be the difference between them getting home safely after their shift or being injured or killed,” Acres said.
Road Safety at Work is funded by WorkSafeBC and managed by the Justice Institute of BC. Road Safety at Work offers free online resources at RoadSafetyAtWork.ca.