Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Work-zone speeders to see penalties climb

Bill 2 designed to protect workers

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Tougher fines will be levelled against speeders who whiz through highway construction zones even when no workers are present.

Bill 2, introduced Friday, would allow authorities to impose additional fines of $7.70 for each km/h of excess speed -- an increase from the current $5 per km/h of excess speed.

Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun said it means the fine for speeding in a designated construction zone would be almost double the fine for speeding elsewhere.

"Every person who is working on our roads is someone's mother, father, son or daughter," Braun said. "Every family deserves to have their loved one come home safely at the end of their workday," adding the bill will also bring in clear signage warning of reduced speeds in construction zones.

Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said the government will also broaden the definition of a designated construction zone.

"It's not just the presence of workers that requires you to slow down," Ashton said. "There are situations where obviously you have a road surface that is under construction so you have to reduce the speed limit for that period as well.

"It'll be very clear -- when the signs are up the speed has been reduced and you have to slow down and if you don't there will be consequences."

The proposed legislation comes after the death of a 21-year-old highway flag worker, Brittany Murray, three years ago.

Murray worked as a flagwoman for Mulder Construction, which was resurfacing a stretch of Highway 207 between the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 15, when she was hit by a 70-year-old driver going nearly double the speed limit. Michael Blostein was found not guilty of dangerous driving causing death earlier this year.

Blostein had testified he believed the speed limit was still 90 km/h and did not reduce his speed to 60 as warned by signs because he didn't see any workers until he hit Murray. The Crown has appealed for a new trial.

Murray's mother, Charlene Harrison, said her daughter might still be alive if the legal requirements in Bill 2 had been in place.

"The big thing is to have drivers respect the workers on the road," Harrison said, adding the provision that hikes fines when workers are not present will remove any doubt of what's expected from drivers.

"Of course you're still going to have your people that will just complain about it and say it's nothing but a cash grab. Until you've been in our situation and place, you definitely wouldn't make a comment like that."

Tory justice critic Reg Helwer said Bill 2 is welcome, but it should have been tabled long ago, as its provisions are common practice in other provinces.

"What took this government so long? We had to wait for severe injuries and death of Manitobans to force their hand?" he said.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 16, 2013 A5

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Updated on Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 2:10 PM CST: fixed cutline

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