BY RICHARD GILBERT - Members of the local flaggers association in B.C. are preparing to meet with the provincial minister of transportation next month to discuss the need for new laws that double the fine for drivers who are caught speeding in construction zones.
“I am very excited about the meeting because this is contrary to what was said initially,” said Tammy Sampson, cofounder of the B.C. Flagging Association and director of operations with BCRS Road Safe Inc.
“At least, there is going to be a discussion and they are going to hear us out. We are excited that they are going to let us present a case to them.”
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone has agreed to meet with Sampson, as well as representatives from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the City of Surrey in Victoria on April 2.
According to Sampson it took more than three months for Minister Stone to respond to their request for information about the association’s recommendations for improving safety for traffic control people.
“We are not just asking for speeding fines to be doubled,” said Sampson.
“We are asking for all fines to be doubled, such as a distracted driving and undue attention. So, anytime you are in a construction zone and violate the regulations, you will get double the fine.”
She said every province and territory in Canada has double the fine for speeding in a construction zone except B.C.
Stone told Sampson in an e-mail on March 3, that the provincial government is not considering further increases in the immediate future.
The B.C. Flagging Association has been advocating for more than two years for a change in the law.
However, they claim that the provincial government has been giving them the run around and they have had great difficulty getting straight answers.
To begin, members of the flagging association began sending requests for change to the then minister of justice and attorney general Shirley Bond in May 2012.
This continued until September 2012, when former minister of transportation Blair Leckstrom announced that fines would be doubled in construction zones.
Bond said she was taking action on the flaggers’ concerns. Leckstrom said he was supporting Bond with this change in the law.
“When Shirley Bond was the Minister of Transport, she committed her efforts, but to date has done nothing but passing the buck down the line,” said Sampson.
“When Blair Leckstrom became the minister of transport, he tried ignoring our endless emails and letters dated back to Dec 2011 and it was only when we involved the media (that) we finally received a reply.”
The confusion surrounding the issue is due to 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.
Bond told the flaggers in July 2012 that fines for speeding in construction zones would not be doubled.
She said this 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 has the responsibility for changing the fine structure in construction zones.
After providing this explanation, Bond forwarded the flagger’s request to RCMP Superintendent Denis Boucher.
Next, they were advised by the RCMP and local law enforcement that they cannot change the laws.
They said they are governed by the Motor Vehicle Act, under the minister of justice and attorney general.
The flaggers informed Leckstrom in May 2012 that safety signs informing drivers that fines for speeding double in construction zones have never actually been the law.
According to the flaggers, the police and the Ministry of Transportation have no idea where these signs came from.
At this point, Leckstrom said he supported the flaggers cause.
They had been asking him to make a change for about eight months.
However, Leckstrom said the enforcement of construction speed zones falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
He forwarded the flaggers concerns to Bond, who was the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General at the time.
The incorrect traffic signs originated in the 1990s, when fines for speeding in a construction zone were doubled from $75 to $150.
BC Speeding Fines 2014
The B.C. ministry of transportation said the normal range for speeding is $138-$196, while fines for speeding in a construction zone start at $196. The fines are graduated as follows:
- If the speed limit is exceeded by up to 21 km/h: $196 fine.
- If the speed limit is exceeded by 21 to 40 km/h: $253 fine.
The jump in the fine from $138 to $196 represents a 42 per cent increase. The fine would be $276, if the fines were actually doubled.
The fines for speeds more than 40km over the speed limit increase to a maximum of $483 and include seven day vehicle impoundment if the speed limit is exceeded by 41 – 60 km/h. A $483 fine and a seven day vehicle impoundment will be imposed if the speed limit is exceeded by more than 60 km/h.
In addition, police may also issue violation tickets for dangerous driving, undue care and attention and other infractions depending on the situation, including a $196 fine if a flagger is present and not being obeyed.