Temporary Traffic Control

Post date: Jan 14, 2018 12:25:14 AM

There are several accidents occurred at road maintenance and/or construction areas in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. The question that usually lingers for a period of time and open for debate publicly and between agencies will be; whose fault when this fatal accident occurred. Let us look through several perspectives.

A. Contract

Contractually, we all know that the contractor have no choice but to indemnify the Government in regards to damages and injuries. This is clearly stipulated in the main contract in clause 14.1(1) & (b) and in general shall leverage their risk by providing insurance to insure all parties as and workmen as stated in clause 15.1 for the former and clause 16.1 for the latter.

Nevertheless, was it generally applicable in all cases? This involves technicality of certain clauses of contract which can be construed as instruction(s) with liability shifted from the contractor to another party. It depends. The followings are scenarios;

(i) If the temporary traffic control design is provided by the consultant as generic guidelines, the contractor is obligated to go through the design and rise up any discrepancies of the design to JKR ATJ 2C/85 (Rev. 2016). If contractor failed to highlight such discrepancies, both parties are responsible for such fatal incident. This doesn't warrant the dismissal of responsibility by the contractor since it is the obligation of the contractor to perform work with professional judgment and practice, requisite skill, care and diligence as mentioned in clause 10.1(d) as well as to perform work in such manner as will always safeguard and protect the government's interest as mentioned in clause 10.1(e). In JKR ATJ 2C/85 (Rev. 2016), contractors are tied to clause 4.4.3.

Apart from these, in any case that involved civil suit, the contractor shall show the level of standard care as mentioned in clause 76. As for SO or/and his representative, the are tied to the responsibility in JKR ATJ 2C/85 (Rev. 2016) clause 4.4.2.

(ii) if the traffic control design was queried by the contractor and SO Rep or RE ignored the suggestion or plead (due to possible increase of cost that leads to variation), this shall be the fault of the supervision team where this is covered under clause 3.3 and 5.1.

B. Construction and Design

Regardless of which party shall determined as responsible party for such fatality based on contract, it is good to understand the minimal requirements or design criteria for temporary traffic control zones and signages. 

Purpose of traffic control - to PROTECT motorists, pedestrians and workers from work zone HAZARD. This includes the ability to warn motorists and pedestrians of hazards ahead, able to advise motorists of the proper travel path through the area, at all times and in all weather conditions, to delineate areas where traffic should not operate and to separate and protect motorist, pedestrian and work force.

The followings are the 5 zones within a work-zone control and the minimum requirement(s) for signs.

i) Zone A advance warning area (at least 1km in advace of the work area with single sign or flashing lights on a vehicle) or at least 250m/450m for low speed/ high speed urban area or 1000m or 200m for low speed / high speed expressway.

ii) Zone B transition area - this is a transition area which merge or zips or channelize normal highway lane to the designated lane where taper distance shall be calculated accordingly or 15-30m long for two way traffic tapers.

iii) Zone C buffer space is arbitrary, to be calculated

iv) Zone D work-area is arbitrary, to be calculated

v) Zone E termination area with downstream taper 15-30m

C. Self-inflicted accident?

Say, you are driving at night and you missed the first and the second advance warning signs (2000m and 1600m) and only realized when reaching 1200m sign.

Let say, the speed limit is 50km/h, and taper of road will channel you to the right lane for a distance of 50m while the buffer zone will be 100m which mean you have 150m clearance to avoid any accident. This translates as 1050m clearance.

At 50km/h or 14m/s and reflex adjustment is at 0.7 second, you only need a critical 9.8m to steer to safety. With allowance of 1050m, you have 74 second before crashing into the work zone. That is when you are driving in an expressway.

Put it in the worst case scenario where the advance warning sign pops up at 250m before workzone at urban area designed for low speed, and you have 100m (250m-100m-50m) clearance to re-position your car into a safe lane, that is around 5 seconds including reflex time when you drive at 50km/h. If you drive at 100km/h, then you have just 2 seconds to react and to re-position. So it is likely that you have no chance to keep cool and steer away from being a roadkill or the yearly statistics if you are driving at 100km/h at this hazardous zone so as the chance to win law suit (if you are still alive).