You speed by us day by day
Thinking, another nuisance, another
When in fact, we’re here to keep you safe
as well as the workers
of this place.
We all like to go home safe and sound
not buried six feet underground.
So please slow down
and heed our signs,
for we are here by design.
Judy Stewart hasn’t been working in construction zones for long.
But it didn’t take the 55-year-old Kelowna woman much time in her new career as a flag person to realize there are big safety issues in construction zones.
Speeders, distracted drivers on cell phones and road rage are among the issues Stewart has witnessed in her short time working a highway construction project near Armstrong.
The generally callous approach of many drivers in construction zones motivated Stewart to put pen to paper in an effort to remind the public to slow down in construction zones.
Stewart recently penned a poem called Flaggers Lament to remind people why flaggers are out there.
“It just came to me that there are a lot of speeders out there,” said Stewart. “They know who they are and this is not pointing the finger at everyone but some people need to slow down for the safety of everyone.”
As the summer construction season ramps up, Stewart felt it was a good time to remind people that construction areas can be a hazardous place to work and drive if people aren’t slowing down.
In March of 2006 a female flag person working near the corner of Highway 97 and Mills Road in Kelowna was killed when she was struck by a vehicle. Last year, a flagger was killed while working a construction site near Mission, B.C.
Stewart says her poem wasn’t a reaction to the tragic deaths of those and other flag people that have been injured or had close calls while working, but more of a general reminder for people to slow down.
“I just thought it would be something to jog the public’s awareness,” she said. “We’re here for their safety. It’s not just for the our safety or the workers, it’s for everybody. I don’t think the public is aware that we are here for them.”
Stewart estimates as many as 30 per cent of the drivers that go through her construction zone are either speeding, talking on their cell phone or bothered if they have to stop for the construction to continue.
“You have to develop a thick skin because some people get angry at you for stopping them. That’s life these days. Everyone is in a hurry. But people need to slow down.”