“Slow Down” posters hit hard


The photos are of real people – not actors – and they aim for the heart, with messages like: “Slow down. My grandpa works here.”

More than 50 families volunteered to use their images for the campaign and I saw my first one last year by the Canada Line project in Richmond. The smiling images of the working mom with her cute kids, looked out at the road, reminding drivers: “My mom works here.”

Human beings work here

This sends a powerful message. These workers are human beings with families. They are not just annoying obstacles slowing you down.

The current “Slow Down” campaign reminds me of a conversation I had with a safety manager on the Lions Gate Bridge project in 2000. Her name was Nicky Wilson and she said traffic was the biggest risk to workers.

The Lions Gate Bridge was closed some evenings and weekends and at other times construction companies had to let vehicles through this important link between Vancouver and the North Shore.

Some drivers vented frustration at the workers on the road.

“They rolled down the windows and yelled at the workers and the flaggers,” Nicky told me in 2000. “It’s total ignorance. The people who do slow down to 40 kilometres an hour are getting harassed by the people who want to speed. They honk their horns and give them the finger.”

Workers on Knight Street in Vancouver, B.C. Canada on July 26, 2010

What’s up with speeding drivers?

Imagine how people are feeling when they lash out like that. Why are they so angry? Are they super stressed out and under pressure? If so, I hope the Slow Down posters give them a jolt of reality.

Nicky’s message to drivers, in 2000, is echoed in today’s campaign in B.C.

“Slow down. Ten minutes isn’t going to kill you. I mean, we are working here, and this could be your brother or sister.”

Recent death of traffic controller in Mission

In closing, I’d like to express my sympathies to the family and friends of Donald Cain, 49, of Langley. He is the flag person who died after being struck by a car in Mission, B.C. July 15, 2010.

Flag person safety is a topic that hits a nerve with the public, judging from the comments on the CBC News story (with files from Wilson Wong) Flag person killed by car in Mission.

Fifteen people have been hit by motor vehicles while controlling traffic from 2005 to 2008, two were fatally injured.

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4 thoughts on ““Slow Down” posters hit hard

  1. Kimm

    I know a few flaggers and whenever I hear someone get hit or killed because of an idiot I always hope it’s not one of them. If it wasn’t for these guys who put their lives on the line.. We drivers wouldn’t be able to go anywhere.

    I swear people are just rude and don’t care about other people then themselves. I do drive a lot around the lowermainland and it annoys me that people rather speed to get to where they are going instead of leaving leaving 10-15 minutes early as we all know its summer time so there is always road work happening somewhere. And if there isn’t then you get to where you are going a few minutes a head of time without harming yourself or others.

  2. Lisa

    Being wrapped in a several-tonne steel & glass cocoon for hours a week doesn’t encourage connection to or sympathy with other human beings outside of it. I find driving regularly gives you a feeling of power & a sense of entitlement somehow, that you need to be going faster. What keeps me from being a dick to pedestrians, cyclists & flag people is having been in their shoes & doing so regularly now. I know how it feels to be directing traffic, or have a car threaten to turn left into you while walking across a street or cycling in rush hour.

    I have nothing but my opinion to back this up, but I’d bet that people who drive more often are more likely to yell at flag people or turn corners inches away from pedestrians & cut off cyclists because they don’t actually realize from personal experience how that feels for the recipient of this dangerous behaviour.

  3. Mari-Len

    As editor of Canadian Occupational Safety, we always get young interns eager to learn the ropes of the publishing world, but not necessarily aware of the various health and safety topics that we cover. But one recent intern gave me a certain sense of fulfillment when, towards the end of her 3-month internship, I asked her to write and editorial about the things that she learned about workplace safety during the course of her stay here.

    Her article surprised and pleased me because what she wrote told me that she not only learned some of the ins and outs of magazine and online publishing, but that she has learned to be more conscious of her environment, and the people that work on the roads. She says her commute to and from work is now filled with an awareness of the people that are working through and around the paths that she traverse daily, and a consideration of their safety. She no longer thinks of the guys working on paving the road that’s causing traffic to slow down as a nuisance. Instead, she now patiently waits and is more courteous to them, recognizing that they, too, has a family to go home to at the end of the day.

    Here’s what she wrote:
    Youth perspective on Safety (http://www.cos-mag.com/cos/letters/youth-perspective-on-safety.html)

    Keep up the posts!


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