Traf­fic con­trol is no cry­ing game

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by John An­der­sen john. an­der­sen@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

WHEN she first started on the job, high­way traf­fic con­troller Rita Parsons used to get so up­set when abused by mo­torists that she couldn’t hold back the tears.

‘‘ I used to cry,’’ she said yes­ter­day as she stood on the Bruce High­way near Bowen, mas­ter and com­man­der of the north-bound traf­fic lane.

Rita and her col­league Te­gan, a few hun­dred me­tres to the north, were all that stood be­tween the road work­ers labour­ing be­tween them and the hurtling mis­siles of n o r t h a n d s o u t h - b o u n d en­gine-driven metal, hell­bent on get­ting to one des­ti­na­tion or an­other.

Not all driv­ers are happy when they see a red STOP sign loom in front of them. Truck­ies in par­tic­u­lar have a dis­like of hav­ing to stop. It means they then have to go through the gears to get back to cruis­ing speed once they are given the SLOW sign to pro­ceed.

Some of them give Rita and her col­leagues an ear­ful.

Rita and Te­gan are just two of a grow­ing num­ber of women who are en­joy­ing life on the road, mar­shalling traf­fic in or­der to pro­tect road work­ers.

Jac­qui Davy from Townsville traf­fic con­trol com­pany

FRIENDLY WAVE: Rita Parsons is one of a grow­ing num­ber of con­trollers on our roads Arid to Oa­sis Traf­fic So­lu­tions spent six years on the road wield­ing a STOP-SLOW sign. Now she’s in the of­fice, look­ing af­ter book­ings and tak­ing care of job ro­ta­tions.

‘‘ We have a lot of women here now. It’s about 50-50 ra­tio of men to women,’’ she said.

‘‘ It’s ca­sual work so you get week­end and night-time penalty rates on top of what is about a $ 20 an hour stan­dard rate of pay.’’

The work­ing day can range from four to 14 hours and even longer if some­thing hap­pens that can’t wait to be re­paired. Ms Davy said the job wasn’t just about stand­ing on the road with a sign. She said there was a lot of lift­ing and plac­ing of traf­fic con­trol equip­ment at the start and end of ev­ery shift.

The days since Ms Parsons used to shed a tear when some in­con­sid­er­ate mo­torist gave her a spray for in­ter- rupt­ing his or her jour­ney have long gone.

One thing she has no­ticed is that male mo­torists are far more likely to hurl abuse at fe­male traf­fic con­troller than they are at a bloke.

What helps make her day is peo­ple giv­ing her a wave as they drive past.

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