We are the future of traffic control

TCP Authority in the Motor Vehicle Act

The Motor Vehicle Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 318 (the whole statute is available here on the BC Government website)  is a Provincial statute that regulates motor vehicles and driving in the Province of BC. Every time we get behind the wheel of our cars, this is the main source of law we function under. Traffic Contol Person (TCP) authority is found here.

This statute makes two references to “flaggers”. That term is not defined in the statute and is not generally used by other statutes. It is an old term that comes from the early days of traffic control when people directing traffic actually carried little red flags to increase their visibility. That has not been done for years but the term has stuck. The correct term that is found in the WorkSafe BC Rules and Regulations is Traffic Control Person or TCP.

So what is a “flagger” as far as the Motor Vehicle Act is concerned? Well, it certainly means a TCP in proper WorkSafe attire on the road directing traffic. And it may mean any person, regardless of training, who is properly attired and identifiable as a person directing traffic. But that ventures into the area of legal opinion and we are not qualified to go there.

This is an example of poor drafting but it is understandable. Our industry has grown in importance and sophistication over the last few decades and meanings have shifted and processes changed. The statutes and regulations sometimes have had trouble keeping up. But it is clear for our purposes: when you see “flagger” it certainly includes TCP’s.

Section 141 makes it an offence not to obey a “flagger”. This is the primary source for TCP authority on the road. Section 141.1 is a later addition to the statute and it actually refers to “traffic control persons” and extends the rules concerning them.

Obeying flagger

Sec. 141 If a flagger is controlling the movements of traffic around the section of highway being worked on, a person must not drive or operate a vehicle other than as directed by the flagger.

Obeying traffic control person

Sec.141.1 (1) In this section, “authorization” means an authorization that is prescribed or authorized by a regulation under section 209.1 or a resolution or bylaw of the council of a municipality under section 124.2.

(2) If a traffic control person is controlling the movements of traffic on a highway, a person must obey the directions of the traffic control person.

(3) If a highway or lane has been designated as a designated use highway or designated use lane, as the case may be, the driver of a vehicle must, on the request of a traffic control person or peace officer, produce to the traffic control person or peace officer an authorization, and allow the authorization to be taken in hand and inspected by the traffic control person or peace officer.

(4) If a driver or person in charge of a motor vehicle does not produce an authorization to use the designated use highway or designated use lane on the request of a traffic control person or peace officer under subsection (3), the traffic control person or peace officer may direct the driver or person in charge of the motor vehicle to remove the motor vehicle from that highway or lane immediately.

Section 185 also refers to “flaggers” at railway crossings. This does not come up so often.

Those are the only references to traffic control in the Act itself. In the Regulations to the Motor Vehicle Act, Division 23, there are various rules respecting signs and it is here we find the regulations respecting the stop/slow paddle now carried by all TCP’s, their size, color and meaning.

And that is it for this statute. It seems a little odd that our highways and roads are frequently controlled by TCP’s and there is so little in the Motor Vehicle Act about them. All of the Motor Vehicle Act material refered to here is available in a PDF file for easy reference.