Traffic controllers run down
Traffic controller Matthew Sears on Great Eastern Highway.

A leading traffic management company has called for bigger fines and higher demerit points for speeding and other traffic offences at roadworks after two of its workers were run down by motorists.

WARP Group safety manager Ian Fraser said motorists were not heeding "reduce speed" signs and were putting workers and traffic managers at risk.

In the two incidents in the past month, traffic controllers holding stop signs have been struck, including one working on the $350 million Great Eastern Highway upgrade.

Neither was seriously injured.

"There seems to be a total disregard for the signs - they see them as an inconvenience rather than a safety measure," Mr Fraser said.

"Our controllers are always getting verbally abused - but it is the physical threat to their safety that is of most concern. Something needs to be done."

Mr Fraser's view was confirmed by a Queensland ombudsman investigation into traffic control that found many motorists had "an ingrained resentment" to traffic controllers, who were seen as "an obstacle and an inconvenience impacting on their timely arrival at a destination".

The ombudsman found that "the propensity to ignore reduced speed zones through roadworks had reached a level where it could be regarded as a culture" among motorists. The ombudsman said consideration should be given to increased penalties for traffic offences at roadwork sites.

Mr Fraser conceded that the traffic management industry was partly to blame. He said badly positioned or inappropriate signs around work sites meant that drivers might be excused for not taking them seriously.

"It can be frustrating to be told to reduce speed for no apparent reason," Mr Fraser said. "That's why it's important that signage is erected properly and in accordance with well defined rules."

Shadow transport minister Ken Travers said the State Government had to do all it could to address road safety.

Main Roads WA spokesman Dean Roberts said audits were done to ensure contractors were using appropriate and correct signs.

"If it involves significant roadworks, a large-scale public/community awareness campaign is launched to inform and warn road users of the location of works and temporary posted speed zones," Mr Roberts said.

"It is the responsibility of the WA police to enforce and penalise drivers who are not complying with posted speed limits."

A spokeswoman for the City East Alliance, the venture responsible for the Great Eastern Highway work, said the interaction between traffic and construction was one of the biggest risks of the project.

The West Australian

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