One Saskatchewan inventor is aiming to save lives
Anger and frustration fuelled one of Leo Beaulieu’s most recent
The remote-controlled mobile flagger is an innovative
pursuit he hopes will gain momentum in the road construction industry,
one that has experienced its fair share of serious injuries and, in some cases,
fatalities of workers on the job.
One of the more publicized tragedies came in 2012 when Ashley
Richards was struck by a vehicle that was speeding through a highway construction
work zone near Midale, Sask.
Richards, who was pregnant and engaged to be married, was working
her first shift as a flagger. The vehicle that hit her was travelling between 90
and 100 kilometres per hour through the posted 60-km zone.
Richards, who was 18 years old at the time, died in hospital shortly after
Beaulieu didn’t know Richards, but that’s not to say her death didn’t
have an impact on him.
“I recall the morning I was having breakfast when I heard more personal
details about how new she was to the job…she was expecting her first
child. It hit me hard,” said Beaulieu. “I didn’t know any of the parties involved,
but maybe being a dad to three young sons about her age, I just felt
very upset and somewhat mad.
“I wondered how in this day and age of smartphones, remote controlled
construction vehicles and robotics in many sectors of our economy, we
could justify asking these young adults to stand in traffic with nothing
more than a sign to defend themselves against increasing numbers of distracted
And so Beaulieu went to work.
He focused his energy on creating a device that would allow human flaggers
to do their job by commanding a machine that stands in traffic in their
Machine or robotic flaggers already were on the market, though they
lacked important features.
“I began reverse engineering an auto flagger that would solve the deficiencies
identified by users and manufacturers alike,” said Beaulieu.
He used a power wheelchair as a motorized base with a tire borrowed
from his snowblower for the trailing caster wheel. The traffic light came
By Martin Charlton Communications
The remote control mobile
flagger has optional two-lane
control, which is especially
useful at accident scenes
Activated by the human flag
person, the Remote Intrusion
Alarm stays with the work
crew and gives them valuable
extra seconds to take cover if
an errand vehicle enters the
By using the remote control
mobile flagger, personnel are
able to signal to traffic safely
away from active lanes
Inventor Leo Beaulieu hopes
that the remote control mobile
flagger can be used to save
lives in the future
thinkbigmagazine.ca | Quarter 1 2020 | Think BIG 33