California Department of Transportation
Date: April 16, 2015
Contact: Tamie McGowen
Phone: (916) 657-5060
Caltrans Honors 183 Fallen Highway Workers and
Reminds Motorists to Be Work Zone Alert
SACRAMENTO – At its 25th annual Workers Memorial at the State Capitol, Caltrans today honored 183 employees who lost their lives while on the job since the 1920s. Current and past employees, families of the fallen and many partners, including the Federal Highway Administration, California State Transportation Agency, California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, California Transportation Commission and the California Office of Traffic Safety all gathered to honor the legacies of those who gave their lives to build, maintain and keep California’s transportation system safe.
“Thousands of people report for work every day braving the hazards on busy highways, roadways and bridges across California,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “This memorial is a solemn reminder to us all that we each must do our part to keep California’s roadways safe for everyone.”
For only the second time since 2004, Caltrans has not had any fatalities this year. However, as recent as last week, a big rig hit a Caltrans truck along southbound Interstate 5 in Colusa County. The impact of the collision was enough to push both vehicles 150 feet into a rice field and hospitalize the Caltrans worker.
Highway construction and maintenance work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. In addition to the danger workers face, an estimated 85 to 90 percent of people who are killed in highway work zones are drivers and passengers. Most of these fatalities are caused by rear-end collisions, with speeding, distracted and aggressive driving the most common causes.
“Caltrans and highway workers call on the public to do their part to help keep our roadways safe for everyone,” continued Dougherty.Caltrans and highway workers take continuous measures to ensure safety, such as participating in training, updating equipment and alerting motorists in advance of highway work zones. For example, Caltrans has taken steps to further improve the visibility of employees and trucks by increasing the reflectivity of worker clothing and striping on the trucks. But drivers can dramatically improve safety in work zones by slowing down, reducing distractions such as talking on the phone or texting and
dedicating all attention to the roadway. Motorists are also required by state law to move over a lane when safe to do so when approaching a highway worker’s vehicle or other emergency response vehicles with flashing amber lights.
Following the success of California’s “Slow for the Cone Zone” public awareness campaign, Caltrans launched the “Be Work Zone Alert” campaign in 2014. The campaign uses the children of actual Caltrans workers as spokespeople, underscoring the real human tragedy that happens when a highway worker is injured or killed. In addition to billboards that have been up statewide, the campaign also just launched the “Be Work Zone Alert” television spot to educate and encourage drivers to Slow for the Cone Zone and move over for emergency vehicles. The spot can be viewed at https://youtu.be/qN24M5lGNmE
Caltrans has partnered with the California Transportation Foundation to develop two funds to benefit the families of Caltrans workers killed on the job. The Fallen Workers Assistance and Memorial Fund helps with the initial needs a surviving family faces and the Caltrans Fallen Workers Memorial Scholarship is available to the children of these workers. For more information or to make donations, visit www.transportationfoundation.org.
Online Media Kit: To download video or photos of Caltrans highway workers for broadcast/print and additional information related to the 2015 Caltrans Highway Workers Memorial, please visit www.dot.ca.gov/workersmemorial/mediakit.