California Department of Transportation

California Department of Transportation

December 20, 2010
Tamie McGowen (916) 657-5060

Holiday parties bring increased risk to Caltrans workers
Increased DUI drivers put motorists and Caltrans workers at greater risk

Sacramento, CA –  Holiday parties are a fun, enjoyable part of the season for many - but they also can bring increased danger and tragedy to the roadways. More parties mean more driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and more car crashes. Not only is this a danger to motorists, but it also increases the risk to highway workers. Caltrans is responsible for cleaning up debris after traffic collisions, directing traffic, quickly repairing highway damage, and getting traffic flowing again so additional crashes don't occur. This puts Caltrans workers at risk of being hit by a drunk or otherwise impaired driver as they are directing traffic or cleaning up after a collision.

That is what happened recently when Caltrans highway maintenance worker Gary Smith was called from home to provide traffic control on State Route 99 in Chico when an earlier DUI crash killed two adults and one child. A suspected drunk driver then drove through the safety barriers, striking and killing Smith, a nearly 33-year veteran of Caltrans.

"It is everyone's responsibility to slow down when traveling through a highway work zone or when there is a roadside emergency," said Caltrans Director Cindy McKim. "By slowing down and driving responsibly, you can help ensure that highway workers will safely return home to their families this holiday season."

Caltrans, the California Office of Traffic Safety and the California Highway Patrol remind all drivers to plan ahead to have a designated sober driver after drinking, and to be alert for other drivers who may be impaired. Anyone who suspects someone driving under the influence should immediately notify law enforcement by dialing 9-1-1. Also, if you see a Caltrans or CHP vehicle flashing their warning lights, slow down, watch for highway workers and be prepared for sudden stops or lane closures. Be sure to follow the "Move Over" law and try to switch to a safer lane when approaching highway crews or CHP officers on the side of the road. Help us protect those who make our highways safer everyday.

For additional highway and traffic safety press releases from the California Highway Patrol and the California Office of Traffic Safety, please click on the links below:

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