Road workers need better protection: Davis

Daniel MacEachern
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Councillor criticizes sentence given to Ed Drover, who pushed two city employees with his vehicle

A St. John’s councillor says roadwork crews need better protection from the justice system.

St. John’s Coun. Bernard Davis speaks Monday at the weekly public council meeting.

At the city’s regular council meeting Monday night, Ward 4 Coun. Bernard Davis criticized the sentence given Ed Drover for hitting two city employees with his Range Rover 3 1/2 years ago.

Drover pleaded guilty in court to pushing two city workers with his vehicle when they tried to prevent him from entering a section of Rawlins Cross where roadwork was being done.

Both of the workers were sent to the hospital, and one has suffered knee problems requiring physiotherapy that continues today.

Legal force

Davis said the sentence — an absolute discharge with a victim surcharge of $1,500, for pleading guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle — was not enough.

“I believe we need to strengthen our legislation for the road crews to protect both the road crews and safety flagpersons,” said Davis. “And they need better protection in the law, and there must be greater sanctions to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Davis suggested the city send a letter to the provincial ministers of Justice and Service NL to press for “more robust legislation” to protect road crews.

Referred to solicitor

Mayor Dennis O’Keefe suggested the matter be referred to the city solicitor first, and Davis agreed.

After the meeting, Davis said city workers need to be able to work without risking being hit by vehicles — and drivers who do hit road crews need to be given the “highest possible penalty.”

“I think we can go a little stronger than that. City employees are worth more than $750,” he said. “That’s essentially what was said.”

Davis declined to say just how strong a penalty he thought Drover should have been given, but noted three other charges were dropped — failing to stop at the scene of an accident, and two counts of assault with a weapon — and said that at the very least, Drover should have lost his driver’s licence.

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Justice and Service NL

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Recent comments

  • Denise
    February 18, 2014 - 23:21

    Can we have 2 sets of judgements handed down by the Judge. What precedent has he set here? Purposely hit a road worker and claim you were inpatient, bring in a few prominent citizens and that's all that's to it. a couple of charges dropped and an absolute discharge. and a small monetary fine. All done -- Next case , .....Please your Honour you are being laughed at by society.

  • Joe
    February 18, 2014 - 10:20

    Another reason to get rid of the Cons in 2015. By the way is Tom still the Solicitor General? A good time to do favours for friends before he leaves.

  • Virginia Waters
    February 18, 2014 - 09:53

    The neophyte councillor is jumping to the wrong conclusion. Nothing wrong with the legislation - i.e. the criminal code of canada & the highway traffic act - in terms of protecting road workers. The crown, in its wisdom, dropped the more serious charge of assault and the judge, in his, opted for the least possible sentence. So Bernie can question prosecutorial and judicial discretion but not the legislation. The driver's behaviour was nothing short of bizarre and I guess shows that even people with loads of money and influence can be given to the kind of rage more often found among people living on the margins. Which begs the question why courts tend to treat the latter more harshly than the former. Drover should have lost his license for a year but jail time - which is what Bernie is demanding - was not appropriate. Taking nothing away from the stupidity of this guy, or from the need to protect workers, there must be better protocols for roadwork. What I find particularly annoying is the trap. That's where you get little or no advance notice of the mess up ahead until you're into it. Contractors and city management are scrimping on planning, flag men and road signage that would help divert the bulk of traffic around construction sites. Last summer found myself switching from Parkway to Elizabeth Avenue to Empire Avenue only to discover all three were bottlenecked by construction at the same time. Loaders that make way too many trips across the road before allowing the backlog to be cleared, and signs that remain in place long after construction has ceased. Contractors at times exude an almost in-your-face attitude toward drivers, and for their part, drivers tend to have a short fuse. And if the false sense of affluence in this province gets any worse - and the roadwork gets any more frenetic - we'll all have to leave our cars home and walk to work.

    • saelcove
      February 18, 2014 - 11:03

      Virginia waters, so the workers got in his way and your answer is run them over, I pray people like you do not drive

    • Dave
      February 18, 2014 - 12:13

      I pray SEALCOVE does not drive. His eyesight is terrible. Where did it say in her comment that workers should be run over if they get in the way. Don't care if you're for or against, but making a bit of sense.

  • MIKE
    February 18, 2014 - 09:49

    With knowledge and intent ,purposely hit or pushed the flag person with his vehicle. This is a criminal offence.

  • more focus on both sides
    February 18, 2014 - 09:26

    Fine and dandy to get better legislation for the the safety of road crews and flagspersons but - they need to do their part as well. I can't even count how many times I've driven through a construction zone and the flagspersons aren't even facing the oncoming traffic!! More focus is required from both sides on this issue.

  • Ed
    February 18, 2014 - 09:24

    I agree that the sentence was far too light. There should have been a significant fine and complete compensation to the two victims plus the loss of his drivers licence for a significant time. I tend to not want to award jail time for first offences, that just adds to the cost for the taxpayers. Also, I believe the penalty should be the same for anyone not just road crews, a member of a road crew is no more valuable than any other citizen. The penalty is just too low for anyone.

  • Old Fogey
    February 18, 2014 - 09:03

    First thing to do is STOP plea bargaining. Then we can have these people face all the charges they are given and not just the ones the crown wants to proceed with.

  • Rich
    February 18, 2014 - 08:26

    There has always been to justice systems in this town, one for the well connected cocktail party circuit and one for us serfs. Just gotta get used to it, less hard on the blood pressure that way.

  • John
    February 18, 2014 - 08:22

    In any road construction area there is all kinds of signage stating that the minimum fine is $1,500.00 for any violation. A victim surcharge is supposed to be in addition to any fines imposed for the offence(s). This was a case of the perpetrator getting off scot free. Because of this, there was actually no fine imposed for the crime. If this was John Q. Public, rest assured that we would get more than a `bad boy. don`t do that again.` Because this is a conditional sentence, if he keeps his nose clean, there is no record on his file so does that mean that his insurance will not go up

  • Andre
    February 18, 2014 - 07:58

    I challenge anyone in the justice system to spend a day or even a few hours out with a road crew. I bet by the time they finished they have a different opinion about sentences. And yes I work regularly on the roads and have been witness to numerous incidents/near misses and 1 fatality so I understand the frustration when these lax sentences are given. The Justice sytem is a joke!

  • Guy Incognito
    February 18, 2014 - 07:44

    Our justice system is a joke. The cops arrest them, the courts give them a slap on the wrist.....or in this case an insignificant fine. I hope he gets sued for everything he owns....

    • Jeff
      February 18, 2014 - 08:01

      "Our justice system is a joke..." What an origional, thoughtful response. You forgot the bit about "don't do the crime if you can't do the time." I suppose you need to get back to the VOCM question site.

    • Guy Incognito
      February 18, 2014 - 10:16

      Come on Jeff, if you are going to be a troll at least put some effort into it.....

  • Marty
    February 18, 2014 - 07:30

    I was outraged at the sentence given in this case. To strike one flagperson is bad enough but then strike the second person who tried to intervene.. What kind of a message does this send? A large fine minimum $5000 and suspended driver's licence should be the minimum in this incident.