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Work Zone Safety a Concern in the EU

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Work zone safety has become a concern in the European Union. This is the tenor of a news item in the magazine “World Highways” published in New York. The article can be read here. In Europe one seldom sees a flagger on the roads. Traffic control is done by equipment and signage. And apparently this has proven to be less than satisfactory. According to the author, this has also been a concern in the United States.

There is a discussion of various measures that are being tested to educate the public and take action against violators. Among these are the employment of cameras and speedometers in work zones. This makes for interesting reading.

The European Union Road Federation has set up a working committee called the ERF Working Group of Work Zone Safety to:

    • To raise public and political awareness of the importance of improving safety in work zones
    • To reinforce cooperation with politicians, stakeholders and standardisation bodies in order to contribute to wider standardisation at European level
    • To carry out more comprehensive and focused research on national guidelines, legislations and case studies in this area in order to compare the discrepancies between different countries (different definitions and divisions of: road network, type of road works, work zone areas, safety measures, etc…)
    • To identify the best practices and produce work zone guidelines adapted to the state of the art in good practices
    • To improve visibility of the problem at EU level and undertake actions of dissemination (publications, events, etc…).

In Europe, and to some extent, in the United States, one never sees a flagger on worksites. Our own WorkSafe BC is to be commended for the position they have taken with respect to flaggers and traffic control around worksites. We don’t seem to have the same severity of issues on our roads and I think it can be attributed to our “flaggers.

The public education programs being undertaken in Europe should be looked at in this Province. Our own motorists are ignorant of the purpose and function of Traffic Control Persons on our roads. The rather anemic “Cone Zone” program was simply inadequate. An education program should be comprehensive and cover everything from driver training and exams to advertising and to education of public officials, judges and police officers.

We in the traffic control industry often feel like voices crying in the wilderness. We have the experience and expertise when it comes to work zones and traffic. It’s our business to know this material. But we are seldom consulted.