Starting Friday Manitoba drivers with a need for speed near road construction zones will be on the hook for stiffer fines, and RCMP will be out in full force to monitor the mass exodus of Winnipeggers headed for cottage country this May long-weekend. 

Construction worker Wes Bodnar hopes the change will make his work environment safer.

"I think once it hits their wallets, you know what I mean, and they have to pay out double the amount, that's when they are really going to slow down," Bodnar said.

Road workers

The province said the stiffer speeding fines are meant to improve safe work conditions for construction workers. (Bert Savard/CBC)

Amendments to Manitoba’s Highway Traffic Act take effect Friday that will crack down on motorists driving carelessly around road construction sites.

The fines will be double that of preexisting rates and applied to anyone speeding in a construction zone — whether or not workers are present.

This means, for example, a speeder caught doing 80 km/h in a 60 km/h zone of highway under construction would face fines in the range of $500.

The changes are part of Brittany's Law.

Brittany Murray, 21, was struck and killed while working as a flag person in a construction zone in October 2010.

Fines to improve safety

Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun and Steve Aston, Minister of Transportation, told media the goal of the increased fines is to improve the safety of construction workers.

"Currently, there is an increased fine for speeding in a construction zone when workers are present, but workers are not always immediately visible to motorists approaching a construction zone,” Minister Braun said. “The new legislation will help ensure that motorists comply with a posted speed limit prior to encountering workers."

The amendment is also meant to clarify requirements for signage in highway construction areas and do away with signs requiring lower speeds only in the presence of workers.

New signs will alert drivers to construction zones.

The RCMP will have 53 extra shift officers policing highways this weekend, and Cpl. Rodney Campbell said they aren't out to "trick anybody here."

"We want people to know we're out in full force," he said. "We are picking spots that are high traffic and visible."

The RCMP said they are looking for anything and everything — from distracted to impaired drivers.