Thursday, June 30, 2011
Contact: Media Information Officer Edward Cartagena
Phone: (619) 668-6670
Highway Worker Safety Is A Shared Responsibility
SAN DIEGO – Officials from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) today discussed the recent tragic deaths of three highway workers and called on motorists to follow the rules of the road, and specifically to reduce their speeds and pay strict attention when traveling through highway work zones.
Caltrans and the CHP are using the “Slow for the Cone Zone” outreach effort aimed at educating the public on the dangers of distracted and impaired drivers. Since early May, highway workers Stephen Palmer Sr., 64, of Jamul; Jaime Obeso, 53, of Imperial and Richard Gonzalez, 52, of San Ysidro, have died in the line of duty. The Department responded by conducting local and statewide safety stand downs to evaluate worker safety practices.
“Highway worker safety is a shared responsibility,” said Caltrans District Director Laurie Berman. “Workers must be responsible for taking the required safeguards when working next to traffic and drivers need to step up and follow the letter of the law when getting behind the wheel.
“Drivers can protect themselves and others by reducing their speed significantly and moving over a lane when possible, away from the highway work zone.”
Berman said drivers should avoid distractions by using only a hands-free cell phone. They should not text or eat while driving, and never operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
She also added that an alarming “close call” statistic shows that state highway workers have their vehicles struck by errant motorists on average more than 1,000 times a year.
There have been 178 state workers killed while employed by Caltrans and its predecessor, the Department of Public Works, Division of Highways since 1924. For more information on the Caltrans Slow for the Cone Zone campaign, go to the website: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/conezone.
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