Calls for stiffer penalties in construction zones after road signaller fatally struck
Published Thursday, November 16, 2017 6:14PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 17, 2017 6:21PM EST
An association representing road traffic signallers wants tougher fines and more demerit points for drivers who break the law in construction zones after another worker’s death.
Michel Carmel was struck by a driver who was apparently using her cellphone at the time.
Carmel was controlling traffic during a road paving operation on Highway 220 in Bonsecours in the Eastern Townships.
Witnesses say they saw the driver on her cellphone as she approached.
Fellow signaler Jane Hannaburg told radio station 98.5FM that she motioned for the driver to wait until she was off her phone, but said the woman seemed angry, pulled a U-turn and headed straight into the path of Carmel, forcing him onto the hood of her car.
He fell off – but driver then hit him again, she said.
“She stepped on the gas again, went back towards my colleague and hit him again before taking off,” Hannaburg told the radio station.
The woman later turned herself in to the Surete du Quebec, who is investigating the incident.
Carmel died in hospital a week later, the sixth signaller to be fatally struck on Quebec roads since 2010.
“It's tragic,” said a women who works in the area. “It should drive the message home that even if we'll be delayed a few minutes, we have to respect those who are working on our roads.”
Quebec's Highway and Road Signallers Association said many drivers don't respect them and publicity campaigns encouraging drivers to slow down and get off their phones haven’t worked.
They want tougher fines and more demerit points.
“Under the law, a signaller is considered the same as a stop sign,” said Jean-Francois Dionne. “If he hadn't died, the woman would only have three demerit points and been fined $132. We are human beings.”
Dionne wants fines tripled. He said they've spoken to the Transport Minister Andre Fortin and have been told stiffer fines are coming.
Carmel’s funeral will be held on Nov. 25 near Magog.
A coroner is investigating his death.