HIT WITH EGGS, BAIT, SPIT AND ABUSE
Traffic workers tell drivers to cut out the bad behaviour and calm down on the roads
TRAFFIC controllers are outraged that motorists are abusing them daily while doing their jobs.
Enduring, searing summer temperatures are bad enough but workers say they are regularly threatened by drivers.
Upset controllers yesterday told The Observer they had been hit with eggs and fish bait, spat at and abused. “We’re trying to keep road workers safe and drivers need to calm down a bit,” a road traffic controller said, not wishing to be named.
“People don’t give way. They’re speeding through the 40km/h safety lane, some are on mobile phones and occasionally we see people drinking alcohol behind the wheel.”
According to the worker, it’s not only traffic controllers copping a spray but council employees, road workers and power line personnel.
A traffic control supervisor said road rage was an everyday occurrence.
“Upset drivers think we’re to blame for making them late and sometimes they want to get out of their cars and fight us,” he said.
“Every controller has been threatened.”
When asked how they deal with aggressive drivers the workers said the key was to stay in control.
“We stay calm because you don’t know who or what you’re dealing with, especially if they’ve taken some kind of drug,” they said.
Fortunately, neither worker has been in a situation where they were physically attacked.
But they say the biggest danger to road workers is distracted drivers.
“Motorists eyes are drawn to the road work, not the traffic controller on the other side of their cars,” the supervisor said.
“The orange traffic cones and bollards will never stop a vehicle that’s running off the road.”
About 7000 vehicles travel the Bruce Highway between Gladstone and Rockhampton daily.
Traffic controller Ken Altoft was killed last November on the Bruce Highway near the Sunshine Coast.
Police allege a nearby speed camera captured the vehicle that hit him travelling at 157km/h.
The supervisor said legislation is changing in July.
“All roadworks in 100km/h zones will be controlled by traffic lights with traffic controllers standing about 10 metres off to the side,” he said.
“I suppose that’s one way of getting us out of the firing line.”
DANGER ZONE: Working on the roads can be hazardous.