Understanding the Authority of Traffic Controllers at Work Sites

People may not know this about traffic controllers at worksites.
Kirra B Worksite

Introduction: Have you ever found yourself in a traffic jam caused by roadworks, wondering whether the workers in high-visibility gear directing traffic actually have the authority to do so? The reality may surprise you.

While it’s easy to dismiss temporary traffic signs and the guidance of construction workers, assuming they lack real authority, it’s crucial to recognise that their directives hold the same legal weight as permanent road regulations. 

To shed light on this topic, we’ll explore the authority vested in construction workers when it comes to traffic control, emphasising the consequences of disregarding their instructions.


1. Who Holds Traffic Authority?

In general, “construction workers” do possess authority over roads, especially at roadwork sites or during events necessitating partial or complete road closures. Traffic controllers, individuals with specific authorisation and training, are responsible for directing traffic and ensuring compliance with altered traffic conditions, such as reduced speed limits and lane closures.


2. Enforceable Speed Limits

The speed limits posted within construction zones are legally binding, much like permanent speed restrictions. Violating these limits can lead to substantial fines and demerit points, akin to the penalties for speeding outside construction zones. The relevant traffic management company who manages the site must obtain the relevant permits from the road stakeholders to ensure compliance of the changed traffic conditions.


3. Adherence to Road Signs

All road signs at construction sites, whether handheld or stationary, must be strictly adhered to. Disregarding these signs can result in significant penalties, including fines and demerit points. It’s important to note that enforcement is typically carried out by the local police force or relevant authorities. 


4. Tampering with Road Signs

Interfering with road signs constitutes an offense in NSW. Moving or defacing road signs, including those indicating road closures, can lead to fines and legal repercussions. 


In summary, construction workers, especially authorised traffic controllers, possess the authority to manage traffic at roadwork sites. Their instructions, combined with road signs and speed limits, carry legal weight. Ignoring these directives can result in significant fines and penalties. The next time you encounter roadworks, remember that road rules apply, even within construction zones. 

Stay informed and prioritise safety on the roadways.


Amir Imam

Amir Imam

As a seasoned traffic management expert with over 20 years of industry experience, I possess a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies involved in successfully managing projects of all sizes.

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