DCN ARCHIVES

March 10, 2005

Some tweaking required

Union lauds new road safety bill

Local 183 of the Universal Workers Union has welcomed legislation aimed at making working conditions safer for roadbuilding crews in Ontario.

However, the union is suggesting that the legislation —known as Bill 169, or the Transit and Road Safety Bill —does require some tweaking.

Antonio Dionisio, business manager of the union, recently sent a letter to provincial Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar indicating that the changes proposed in the Bill will help promote safer conditions.

Among other things, the Bill proposes much stiffer fines for motorists caught speeding through construction zones.

“The doubling of speeding fines in construction zones will act as a strong deterrent to motorists who otherwise tend to ignore speed limits posted on our roads and highways or do not slow down when warned to do so,” Dionisio said in the letter.

But, he added, “there is a section of this bill that we would suggest requires re-evaluation.”

In the letter, Dionisio suggests that language be changed to ensure that every person caught speeding through a construction zone — whether or not a construction worker is present — is liable to pay double the normal speeding fine.

“Speeding through these zones, whether there are workers or not, remains unsafe for not only the speeder but also other motorists,” said Dionisio.

Furthermore, even if there are no workers in the construction zone, traffic lanes are often reduced where a highway is under repair.”

Dionisio said Local 183 also recommends that when the Bill is passed there should be a strong enforcement presence at as many construction zones as possible.

“Unless the message is delivered to the motoring public that there are consequences to committing such offences, the legislation will have minimal effect. A communications effort should be co-ordinated in conjunction with the implementation phase of the new legislation.”

Dionisio also said that, as Local 183 recommended in a letter to the premier in April, any additional revenues generated from such a program should be redirected back to road safety programs.

“This recommendation was made with electronic enforcement technologies (photo radar) in mind but we believe that the additional fine revenue should go toward a segregated road and highway safety fund.”

Dionisio said Local 183 also supports other initiatives contained in the Bill to ease congestion.

“As a former member of the province of Ontario’s Smart Growth Panel for the Central Zone, the plans to reopen highways faster after collisions as well as efforts to promote high occupancy vehicle lanes are long overdue.”

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