If you’ve been driving in Vancouver lately, you’ve probably had to do endure two scenarios: sitting in long lines of traffic or completely re-routing your normal commute. The streets are changing, and drivers are taking notice, as many are now referring to Vancouver as going through a “Carmageddon”. Road closures can change from day-to-day, causing driver impatience and frustration.
Besides the streets in the core of downtown, like Cambie, Richards, Seymour and Nelson, the main routes that people go to and from Vancouver have begun a makeover that’s caused major congestion for commuters. From the Granville and Burrard Bridge to Georgia Street, Main Street and Terminal to the Powell Street overpass project, many of these projects won’t be letting up until the end of summer 2014.
While many drivers gripe at the added time to our commute, there have been some serious and fatal accidents that have risen from roadwork construction. Just this past month a flagger was killed, which brings the total to three flagger deaths in the past five years.
The driving public often doesn’t recognize how dangerous construction zones can be. For example, even though industrial trucks have backup signals, the sound could be drowned out by the noise of other equipment. As we head into rainier months, poor weather can affect a driver’s vision as well as the workers who are on the roads. Traffic gets congested at construction sites, as lanes are often closed for heavy equipment loading and concrete mixer trucks. It is those times when rear-end collisions, t-bone crashes and multi-car pileups occur.
The ICBC penalty for going over 20km/hour over the speed limit in a construction zone is $196. However, if you are caught going more than 60 km/hour it is $483. Besides the violation ticket fine and driver risk premium, police can immediately impound your vehicle for seven days for those travelling 40 km or more over the posted speed limit. This could escalate to 30 or 60 days for repeat offenders. The owner is then required to pay the vehicle towing and storage fees to get their vehicle back.
Even if you normally abide by the speed limits, when you’re used to driving in areas where the speed limit was 60km, it may now be reduced to 30km due to construction, which could take many drivers by surprise. The most important thing you can do is slow down and respect the directions from construction workers and flaggers.
To see which areas are currently under construction or fully closed, visit the Road Conditions and Improvements page on the City of Vancouver website.